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Emotional Clarke pays tribute to Hughes

Michael Clarke. (AFP PHOTO / LUIGI BENNETT)
29th November, 2014
5

On a day of tremendous tributes around the world, one was more poignant than any other.

It came from a teary-eyed Michael Clarke at the SCG, the same venue where a desperately unlucky Phillip Hughes played his last stroke four days earlier.

Clarke read a prepared statement on behalf of the national team and support staff at the SCG on Saturday morning.

“Words cannot express the loss we all feel as a team,” he started.

The visibly distraught skipper struggled to get the words out.

It remained that way over the next two minutes.

Clarke regularly took breaks to compose himself and wiped away tears while detailing the team’s love for Hughes, who died on Thursday.

“To Greg, Virginia, Jason and Megan (Hughes’ family), we share in the deep pain that you’re feeling,” Clarke said.

“Apart from when he was home on the farm with his beloved cattle, Hughesy was at his happiest playing cricket for his country with his mates.

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“Things were always put in perspective when Hughesy said ‘where else would you rather be boys, but playing cricket for your country?’.

“We’re going to miss that cheeky grin and that twinkle in his eye.

“The world lost one of its great blokes this week and we are all poorer for it.”

Clarke revealed Hughes’ one-day shirt number would be retired.

“Our promise to Hughesy’s family is that we will do everything we can to honour his memory,” he said.

Clarke added that Hughes’ legacy of “trying to improve each and every day will drive us for the rest of our lives”.

“We’d like to thank everyone here and overseas for the touching tributes to Hughesy in recent days,” he said.

“Our dressing room will never be the same. We loved him and always will.

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“Rest in peace bruzzy.”

It was a sombre Saturday for the cricket community, as most players returned to the pitch.

Grade cricket in Sydney and Adelaide, the two cities where Hughes plied his trade as a professional cricketer, was cancelled.

But club and school games otherwise went ahead in Australia.

Players – young and old – donned black armbands and stood for 63 seconds of silence.

Junior batsmen retired on 63 instead of the traditional 50.

Hughes was unbeaten on 63 batting for South Australia in the final knock of the 25-year-old’s life.

The number 408 was also a common sight at cricket grounds around the country, celebrating the fact Hughes was Australia’s 408th Test player.

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The #putoutyourbats campaign grew further momentum, with willow appearing outside Kirribilli House, the Sydney residence of the prime minister.

Internationally, England, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and New Zealand’s national sides paid tribute to Hughes in Sharjah and Colombo.

Elton John stopped a concert in Germany to mention Hughes’s death, while the Queen sent a private message of condolence to the Hughes family.