Sydney: Top cricketers from around the world united in their support for Phil Hughes on Tuesday after a ball to the head left the Australian batsman in critical condition in hospital. Australia coach Darren Lehmann was among the first to tweet his support as social media was inundated with messages, many tagged #ThoughtsWithHughesy.

The 25-year-old international underwent emergency surgery and was in intensive care after being airlifted from Sydney Cricket Ground. "Our thoughts and prayers are with phil and his family! He is a great fighter and a great young man!" Lehmann wrote.

Mahela Jayawardene
Mahela Jayawardene. File Pic/AFP

The South Australia opener was knocked cold by a short ball, or bouncer, from New South Wales fast bowler Sean Abbott after compiling 63 in a domestic Sheffield Shield game. Australia captain Michael Clarke reportedly rushed to Hughes' side at hospital while Test team-mate David Warner was with him during his initial treatment on the field.

"Thoughts are with my little mate Hughesy and his family. He is a fighter and a champion and he will get through this. Praying for you buddy," Warner tweeted later. Australian legends Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Adam Gilchrist also offered their support along with current fast bowler Mitchell Johnson.

"He is a fighter and a champion and he will get through this," tweeted Johnson, a feared exponent of the short ball. Cricket stars from abroad also sent their best wishes including Ian Botham and his fellow former England captain Michael Vaughn, who called it "devastating news".

Virat Kohli, who will captain India in the Test series against Australia starting next month, wrote: "Thoughts and prayers with Phil Hughes all the way. "Fight it out mate. You are a top man. All the strength goes out to you and your family."

Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene and retired Indian batsman VVS Laxman also sent messages for Hughes, along with several current players of England, Australia's arch-rivals.

"Awful news about Phil Hughes. Sickening to hear. Praying for him and his family," wrote England fast bowler James Anderson.