At just 25, Phil Hughes had the world at his feet. I can’t imagine what his family is going through.
Hughes has received wonderful tributes throughout Australia and the world, along with countless minutes of silence in various capacities.
Junior cricketers around Australia retired on the weekend with their score on 63. One junior cricketer made 37 and he walked off. Someone asked him him why and the young lad said, “I finished his 100 for him”.
In the Sharjah Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan, Pakistan players had their bats out with their caps attached to them. New Zealand players had the initials ‘PH’ under the silver fern and when they got a wicket there was no celebration.
In the A-League in every match on the 63rd minute mark the crowd gave a minute of applause.
On Twitter current and ex-cricketers from Australia and around the world conveyed their tributes.
It has also touched stars from other sports such as Rafa Nadal and David Beckham, and sporting teams like the New Zealand All Blacks, England Rugby team and football club Arsenal FC.
The phenomenon of #putoutyourbats on social media has been nothing short of remarkable. Whether cricketers, other sports stars, celebrities, politicians or your normal average Joe, everyone has put out their bat in support and affection towards Hughes.
This tragedy has also reached America, with an article in the New York Times, while baseball player and namesake Phil Hughes also sent his condolences.
Her majesty the Queen did likewise, while music legend Elton John also payed tribute while he was doing a concert in Germany.
The boy from Macksville and son of a banana farmer has touched the world.
Hughes, at the age of 20, made his Test debut against South Africa in 2009 after a healthy start to his first class career. He became the 408th player to wear the baggy green. In the second Test of that series, he made a hundred in each innings.
A few months later, in the 2009 Ashes series, Hughes was dropped after a difficult showing in the Lord’s second Test. Theoretically, Hughes was dropped five innings after those twin tons.
When he was first dropped from the Test side, he was only 20. After his first five Tests, he accumulated 472 runs at an average of 52.44 including two hundreds and a fifty from nine innings.
Looking at those figures, that is a great start to his Test career, especially for a 20-year-old. So why did the selectors drop him?
In the subsequent four years, he was dropped a further two times. He made 86 not out against New Zealand in 2010 but was replaced by Shane Watson and was then left out after suffering four modes of dismissal of “caught Guptill bowled Martin” against New Zealand in 2011.
When Hughes made 1 and 1 in the second Test at Lord’s in the Ashes series of 2013, he was dropped again. This sadly was to be his 26th and final Test match.
At just 24, Hughes was dropped four times from the selectors.
My feeling is that whenever Australia lost a Test match really badly, selectors were looking for quick fixes. There was also the feeling that Hughes’ unorthodox homespun technique would struggle the test of time in Test cricket.
Fast forward to November 2014, stories were doing the rounds that Michael Clarke would miss the first Test against India due to injury.
Hughes was playing in a Shield match against his old state, NSW. Sensing the opportunity, Hughes was determined to get a decent score, preferably a hundred to make the selectors sit up and take notice.
Things were going swimmingly for Hughes. He posted another first class half century and looked to be on his way to another Shield century.
On 63, Sean Abbott, a medium pacer, bowled a short-pitched delivery. Hughes’ instinct was to pull that delivery to the boundary for four and edge closer to a century and a Test recall.
Hughes went through the shot before the ball had arrived and therefore the subsequent fatal blow occurred.
From there we all know what transpired. Hughes passed away two days later in Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital.
Now before anyone gets any wrong ideas, let’s separate the tragedy and deal with the issue regarding Hughes’ treatment from the selectors.
It was ridiculous that he was dropped from the Test side four times by the age of 24. That shouldn’t happen.
Hughes isn’t the only player that has been unnecessarily dropped from the Test side. Left-arm fast bowler Mitch Starc has been dumped on numerous occasions and he is only 24.
Compare that to former Australian Test captain Steve Waugh, who made his first Test century in his 26th Test match.
In future, selectors need to persist with young players, otherwise how are young players going to develop as cricketers?
The legacy that Phillip Joel Hughes leaves behind is a player with unbridled talent who never gave up and was a great role model to young kids.
The world has lost a special person. At 63 not out, a Test average of 32 and at an age of 25, he had a lot to give.
Phil Hughes’ memory should never be forgotten. RIP Phil, 63 not out forever #408.
My family, friends and I would like to pass on our condolences to the Hughes family in this very difficult time.
A special mention to Sean Abbott. He is not to blame for this incident. A freakish one-in-a-million type accident. He needs a strong support network to get through this tragedy.