Brian Lara
Former West Indies batsman Brian Lara in action.Reuters file

The injury that left Australian batsman Phillip Hughes in a critical condition in hospital was a "rare" event but a reminder that cricket has always been a dangerous sport, West Indies batting great Brian Lara said on Wednesday.

Hughes took a blow on the head from a short delivery while batting for South Australia against New South Wales in a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on Tuesday.

The 25-year-old underwent emergency surgery to relieve pressure on his brain at a Sydney hospital and remained in a critical condition on Wednesday.

Lara, who was playing in the pro-am before the Australian Open golf tournament, said before considering any wider implications for the game, his first thoughts had to be for Hughes.

"It's very unfortunate, batsmen face all sorts of dangers, we can just pray for him," he told reporters after his round at the Australian Golf Club.

"I know all of Australia and all of the cricketing world are praying he comes back to play and to full health.

"I think it's a sport and you are always going to have that element of risk. This is an unfortunate and rare situation.

"I felt safe playing but there was that element of risk, I used to say a little prayer in the morning and just hope for the best."

Lara recalled being hit on the head a couple of times during his career by quicks Shoaib Akhtar and Glenn McGrath but said batsmen accepted that facing hostile pace bowling was "part of the game".

"I think they've done their best over the years to curb it and manage it as best as possible," he added.

"But it's part of a fast bowlers armoury and it's very hard to take that totally away from them.

"There are some batsmen who feed on that sort of attack and I don't really believe it's anything that should effect fast bowlers and the rules governing that."

In that hope, he was given solace by the experience of his former West Indies team mate Phil Simmons, who was struck by a short ball during a tour match against Gloucestershire in 1988.

"I think he didn't have a helmet and it was a similar thing, he had brain surgery," he recalled. "But he was back on the cricket field 12 months later. It was a devastating situation back then."