Phillip Hughes’ funeral earlier today demonstrated the unity of the cricketing world but especially the sense of tremendous loss felt by Australians right across the country for one of “their own”, with the remembrance service and funeral being broadcast live to millions on national television and relayed back to the major cities in ‘Oz’ on large screens. The outpouring of support from well wishers has been staggering after the sudden and shocking death of Hughes only last week, when he was hit just below his helmet at the top of the neck by a bouncer in a #Cricket match at the SCG in Sydney.
Friends, family and fellow cricketers (including several from the current Australian Test team and former greats such as Shane Warne and Ricky Ponting) gathered to pass on their condolencies and pay respect to the all too short life of a 25-year old batsman who seemed to endear himself to those he met and played with during his time in this world. Overseas cricket was also represented by New Zealand’s Sir Richard Hadlee and the West Indian great Brian Lara, among others. The Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott and (bravely) Sean Abbott who bowled the ultimately fatal delivery were also in attendance. Thankfully the cricketing world have been equally sympathetic in their backing for that young man as they unite behind all of the players involved in the match, viewing it as a terrible accident in what is basically a safe game.
It was testament to how he affected his colleagues that the current Australian cricketing captain and friend, Michael Clarke, a pole-bearer at the funeral in Hughes’ home town of Macksville, New South Wales, was reduced to tears as he paid his own personal tribute. His parting words ”...rest in peace, my little brother. I will see you out in the middle” represented his heartfelt feelings at the loss.
In a fitting gesture, Hughes’ final innings of 63 has been officially classed as ‘not out’ for the record books, with Cricket Australia’s chief executive, James Sutherland, echoing that fact when he stated that Hughes would be “..forever unconquered on 63”.
‘Hughesy’ was well thought of by the cricket loving country and as a genuine and appropriate sign of their warmth and feeling for him, cricket bats with messages attached have been laid against walls, fences and cricket pitches in his honour.As a consequence of the funeral and the welfare concerns that have been expressed for the home country’s players in the aftermath, the four Test series against India (which Hughes had been hoping to be selected to play in before his untimely death) has had to be re-scheduled somewhat but will continue nevertheless. It was originally planned to begin in Brisbane on Thursday, but that match has been deferred to 17th December, with the first Test now being in Adelaide on the 9th of December instead. Tradition dictates that the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne will not be moved but the final Test in Sydney (which will no doubt be a poignant reminder of Hughes’ final moments at the crease) will now be played on 6th January 2015.