Sydney - Cricket Australia boss James Sutherland said on Thursday that it was an understatement to say that they were completely devastated."The word tragedy gets used too often in sport, but this freak accident is a real life tragedy," said Sutherland.
He was commenting on the death of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes, who died in a Sydney hospital two days after being hit in the head by a ball.
Australia's pain was shared by the cricketing world. Cricket, perhaps more than most other sports, is played by a tight-knit community.
Only a handful of countries play the game professionally and opposing players spend months together, often dining and drinking together after matches.
Rarely has cricket been more united than now, the game's saddest day.
Overwhelmed by emotion, Australia's players were in tears as they filed out of St Vincent's hospital after bidding farewell to their fallen teammate.
The Indian team, currently on tour in Australia, cancelled their two-day practice match that was due to start on Friday.
In Dubai, Pakistan and New Zealand aborted the second day of their Test match because the players were too distraught to take to the field.
At Lord's, the traditional home of cricket, flags were flown at half mast, a tribute that was replicated at stadiums around the world.
"For a young life to be cut short playing our national game seems a shocking aberration," Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said.
"He was loved, admired and respected by his teammates and by legions of cricket fans."
The news of Hughes' death came like a bolt from the blue. The 25-year-old had been in an induced come for two days after being struck by a bouncer from Sean Abbott at the Sydney Cricket Ground in a domestic encounter.
He had needed CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before undergoing emergency surgery to reduce the pressure on his brain.Cricket is not a sport associated with death, so hopes were high that he would survive but the injuries he suffered were catastrophic.
The ball hit him on the side of his neck, compressing his vertebral artery and causing it to split, forcing blood into the brain area."This was a freakish accident because it was an injury to the neck that caused haemorrhage in the brain," Cricket Australia doctor Peter Brukner said. "The condition is incredibly rare."
His death will undoubtedly raise questions about safety standards in the game. Hughes was wearing a helmet but the ball slipped through a tiny gap between his shoulder and the base of his protective hard hat.