On cricket pitches the world over, from top class grounds to village greens to school playing fields there is almost always the same awful moment.

The batsman plays too early or too late or top edges the ball or turns his back and there is that ghastly crack of ball on protective helmet.

Usually a "moment" is all it is. The fielders gather round, the bowler says sorry and the shaken batsman removes the helmet, checks for damage to both hat and head and carries on.

But this time the "moment" became minutes, which became hours, which became a wretched, desperate couple of days, which then ended with this worst possible news.

A young man's family in grief, a country in shock and a sport in mourning.

It's not supposed to happen. In cricket? No way.

And yet it has happened . And that, it seems to me, changes everything .

The safety cricket helmets have been brought into question. Credit: PA

It changes how the authorities will approach the issue of safety. How better to protect batsmen, whether to change helmet regulations. They must now look at ways of better protecting the back of the head .

There may even be calls to further limit short pitched bowling, which I hope they don't. It is part and parcel of the game and has provided great spectacle.

Michael Atherton believes this will be a wake up call for batsmen. Credit: PA

But most of all it changes the way players at all levels will think. It changes how batsmen will approach their task. Former England captain Michael Vaughan said as much in a piece he wrote before the news of Hughes' death .

"Phil Hughes’ injuries will send shivers through cricket - batsmen will now feel that while they are out in the middle they are in a world that is full of danger with the risk of serious injury," Atherton wrote.

“You always knew that if the ball hit you it was going to hurt. You knew that you might break a finger or a hand or you might get one on the chest, but I never thought I would get a serious head injury like the one Hughes has suffered."

Sean Abbott, centre, bowled the delivery. Credit: PA

It changes, hopefully, the sense of complacency that has crept into the game since helmets were introduced. It is a reminder that it is a dangerous game, even with helmets. Batsmen need to ensure they have the best possible protection for their head.

And it changes the way bowlers will think. Spare a thought today for poor Sean Abbott, the bowler who delivered what turned out to be the fatal ball . Phil Hughes was a great friend of his.

He will feel dreadful. I would be surprised if he could bowl a ball again for a good while.

Atherton’s piece in the also Times talks about how bowler Peter Lever is still haunted by his delivery that nearly killed Ewen Chatfield in New Zealand almost forty years ago.

Team-mates, like Steve Smith, will be changed by the experience. Credit: PA

But all fast bowlers will go about their business now with a new thought lurking in the back of their mind. They always knew they could hurt batsmen. Sometimes they even admit to wanting to. But knowing you can kill someone is entirely different.

It will certainly change things for this generation of Australian cricketers .

They, more than most teams, perhaps have a team ethic, a brothers-in-arms attitude that they see as central to their success .

They will feel this for years to come.

Hughes' parents Greg and Virginia, and sister Megan will be left to grieve. Credit: PA

It will also change things for countless parents of young players. They will ensure they have the best possible helmet. What is the point in spending £250 on a good bat but only £30 on a cheap helmet?

Phil Hughes was a popular character. I met him once, introduced by a mutual friend, at Lord's four or five years ago.

Hughes will be remembered for his personality, as well as his cricketing ability. Credit: PA

I asked him cheekily if he fancied playing in a game I was organising later that summer. He could be my secret star. He said he would if he didn't have a game with Middlesex. As it happened he was playing with the county. But I think he would have played. He seemed that sort of guy.

All thoughts today are with the family and many friends of Phil Hughes. Their lives have been changed by tragedy.

And for cricket as a whole it just feels like a day that has changed so much.