Sydney: Australian batsman Phillip Hughes has a fractured skull and suffered catastrophic bleeding in his brain, reports said Thursday, as shattered players maintained a vigil at his hospital bedside.
Hughes, who was due to celebrate his 26th birthday this weekend, is in his third day of intensive care in an induced coma after surgery.
He remains critical after being felled by a Sean Abbott bouncer during a Sheffield Shield game between South Australia and New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday.
Doctors have yet to detail the extent of his injuries but the Australian Broadcasting Corporation said his skull was fractured while the Sydney Morning Herald reported that he suffered catastrophic bleeding in his brain.
An update on his condition is expected later Thursday.
Hughes` life-threatening injuries, despite wearing a helmet, have sent shockwaves through the cricketing world.
Test stars Shane Watson, Brad Haddin, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Steve Smith are among a stream of personalities from the sport who have visited Hughes` bedside.
Emotions were running high with supporters shedding tears and sharing hugs.
Australia captain Michael Clarke has been an almost constant presence at his close friend`s side at St Vincent`s Hospital since the freak incident, arriving again early Thursday.
A who`s who of the cricketing world have sent their best wishes, including Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and the captains of England, South Africa and India.
The vigil by family and friends continued as questions were raised about a delay in the response after the initial emergency call for help was made.
Sydney Cricket Ground officials said a call was made six minutes after the batsman crumpled to the ground at 2.23pm, but the ambulance did not arrive until 2.52pm. A helicopter and another ambulance were also dispatched.
While waiting, Hughes was given CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation by NSW team doctor John Orchard before being rushed to hospital for scans and surgery.
The Sydney Cricket Trust defended its handling of the incident.
"SCG Trust staff followed the venue`s emergency management plan quickly, calmly and professionally, as did staff from Cricket NSW and the NSW Ambulance Service," trust official Phil Heads told reporters.
New South Wales Health Minister Jillian Skinner said she would meet the state`s ambulance commissioner on Thursday to find out why it took so long to arrive at the scene despite the nearest ambulance station being barely one kilometre away.