Sydney: The tragic death of batsman Phillip Hughes dominated the front pages of Australia`s media Friday as "the nation shares the agony of an innings cut short", while rallying behind the youngster who bowled the fatal ball.
Hughes died Thursday from a rare head injury after a devastating on-field blow, sparking an outpouring of grief in Australia and around the world for a player who was due to celebrate his 26th birthday on Sunday.
The Sydney Daily Telegraph, which devoted 14 pages to the story, put a smiling picture of Hughes on the front page, simply saying "Phillip Hughes 1988-2014."
In an opinion piece it said that the sporting world, and much of Australia, was in "deep mourning" with flags flying at half mast at cricket grounds across the nation.
The newspaper also offered support for the 22-year-old bowler who delivered the ball at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday as South Australia faced New South Wales in a Sheffield Shield clash.
"Players and commentators have rightly stood by fast bowler Sean Abbott, who was simply playing his usual game when Hughes was injured," it said.
"Nobody can possibly bear him any ill will. It is hoped, with time, Abbott will return to the game he loves."
The Sydney Morning Herald also went to town across 12 pages, under the headline "We love you," from a family statement read out on Thursday by devastated Australian captain Michael Clarke, a close friend.
The daily also chose to offer support to Abbott, while reflecting on Hughes` life.
"To the family and friends of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes ... everyone at the Herald expresses our deepest sympathies," it said in an editorial.
"To Sean Abbott ... we are thinking of you. Stay well. Listen to the advice of those who know how fragile you are, even if you don`t fully realise."
The Australian broadsheet said "the nation shares the agony of an innings cut short" on its front page, adding: "A bright talent, 63 not out forever," referring to the score Hughes had made when he was hit by the Abbott bouncer.
"The tragic notion of an athlete dying young is etched deeply into our sports-loving nation," an editorial said.
"Cricket, especially, binds us, its lore passed through families.
"For us, Hughes remains forever young, smiling, batting with abandon, sprinting between wickets, punching the air in jubilation.
"A little bloke off the farm chasing his dream of wearing the Baggy Green."
Doctors said Hughes died after his vertebral artery split when hit by the ball, leading to massive bleeding into his brain.
It was a freak injury with only 100 cases ever reported and only one known incident as a result of a cricket ball.