Phil Hughes; talented and now gone at 25

Phil Hughes (photo: Cricket Australia)
Phil Hughes (photo: Cricket Australia)

The cricket world is hurting this week.  I’m hurting. The news rocked us all.

The age of 25 is far too young; what hurts even more is the death was on a sporting field, with the sportsman doing something he loved.

Phil Hughes was loved by many and never backed down from a challenge.  Watching his absolutely blistering twin centuries against South Africa in Durban in 2009 is probably etched into the memories of cricket fans worldwide.  What’s more, he was the youngest Australian since Doug Walters to score three figures, and the youngest player of any country to score test centuries in both innings of a test match.  Those are records that might be hard to be beaten.

He had an incredible 26 first class centuries at the age of 25, and was three days from his 26th birthday.

All of this happened because of one ball bowled.  Sean Abbott, the New South Wales quick who delivered the – unfortunately – final blow at the Sydney Cricket Ground.  Hughes was on 63 not out when the ball struck him just below the ear pad of the helmet grille.

It could have been Tom Cooper in the firing line, or anyone else.  Abbott was at no fault, he just bowled a normal bouncer that just got Hughes in the wrong spot.  Having the delivery clocked around 140 km/h, and then getting him in the neck, was what sent the cricketing world into immediate shock.

The 170cm left-hander looked unorthodox at the crease, but people forgot about that when he played his shots.

Hughes will be most widely remembered for “that”attitude on and off the field – unwavering, determined, with a massive grin, and a desire to keep getting better.  That attitude served him extremely well.  A professional sportsman to the very end, Australian cricket is going to miss Phil Hughes.

The last two days have shown why Michael Clarke’s leadership is 100 percent focused on leading the Australian team.  Hughes left New South Wales to pursue domestic cricket in South Australia in 2012, with instant success.  Peter Lalor’s chilling article on Wednesday summed it all up.  At that moment, 2.23pm on November 25, everything changed.

In some aspects, Phil Hughes’ attitude sometime resembled Justin Langer’s. His smile was contagious, and he could never back down from a war of words with his opponents – without any obscenities.  Who can forget him smacking Dale Steyn for a six in South Africa, one of the world’s premier fast bowlers.  It told the world who was boss in that innings.

Perhaps the most prevalent issue to come from this tragedy is whether new developments will be made to find a way to better protect the neck region.  Right now, though, the cricket community is in mourning over a talented cricketer gone far too soon.

The rest of his former teammates will be wondering what to do next, too.  Those that have rallied around Abbott are crucial to helping the young bowler recover.

Phil Hughes; 63 not out, but never forgotten.  Wherever he may go to, let’s hope he scores big for Australia. RIP.


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