RIP Phillip Hughes

Phillip Hughes – 30/11/1988 – 27/11/2014

PhillipHughesOvernight the game of cricket entered its darkest hour. Two days ago a dark shadow was cast over the sport when Phillip Hughes was struck by a bouncer in a Sheffield Shield match while he was on 63. The cricketer looked visibly dazed, initially placing a hand on his knee, perhaps for balance, before collapsing face first into the pitch.

This morning as England awoke it did so to the news that Phillip Hughes had died as a result of the injury he had suffered.

Thoughts and prayers go out to the friends and family of a young man, days short of his 26th birthday, who now will forever remain 63 not out.

The game of cricket has had dark hours before. Match fixing allegations have affected the sport, drugs have affected the sport but never in the modern game has a player died playing the sport. Cricket enters its darkest hour mourning the loss of a bright star with a huge future ahead of him.

A country boy with a unique talent, who had the ability, aptitude and application to realise what he had stated was a dream as a youngster growing up, to play cricket for Australia. Phillip was the 408th cricketer capped by Australia in test match cricket. His first test innings saw him dismissed for a duck on his fourth ball but he top scored in the second innings of the test. In the next test he became the youngest man to record centuries in both innings of a test match, a record that stands to this day.  English fans can’t help but remember his part in the, at the time, world record 10th wicket partnership with Ashton Agar in the Trent Bridge test of the 2013 Ashes.

Hughes struggled to hold down a place in Australia’s test team which is something a lot of great players have struggled with over the years. Think of how many great Australian players have never held down regular places in the test team while had they have been from any other country they would have made that country’s team.  He was however previously noted by John Inverarity, at the time the Chairman of Selectors for Australia, as an important part of Australia’s future.

With Australia due to face India in an upcoming test series Phillip Hughes had been hotly spoken about to reclaim a place in the side in place of the unfit Australian Captain. Tragedy on November 25th struck which would two days later put paid to not only Phillip Hughes living his dream but even more tragically would end a young man’s life.

I have played cricket as a youngster and in to early adult hood. I was fortunate enough to be able to bowl rapidly at a time when helmets were only just being introduced to the club scene. Never once did I deliver the ball with a thought that I might be about the innocently end the life of an opponent. I’m sure until today no cricketer has ever had that thought as they ran in to bowl. Likewise when batting, always without a helmet, I never felt that my life was in danger at any point in time. I just have to clarify that my talent was never enough for me to play at a high level, I never faced bowlers who were 90mph, I never delivered a ball at 90mph.

The bowler in question is Sean Abbott. He delivered the ball that turned out to be the last ball that Phillip Hughes faced. The game wasn’t televised, it was being streamed and the video isn’t of great quality. From what I have seen it would appear that the ball was legal, bowled within the laws of cricket and certainly no suggestion has been made otherwise. That just serves to increase the tragedy.

A young man, still at the start of a career was doing the job he was paid to do. He ran in, delivered a short ball and ultimately that ball has resulted in the passing of another human being. No blame can nor should be placed on the bowler but I’m sure he will be experiencing a turmoil of emotions right now.

The cricket world has come out in tribute to the young Australian star, it would appear about to re-embark on his test career. Twitter and Facebook have been full of tributes and messages of condolence.

I didn’t know either man involved, the batter nor the bowler, neither do I know anyone who does know them personally but as someone who has loved the game of cricket since the age of 9 I feel a sense of loss today and I feel a darkness cast over the game.

Simply two young men went to work, doing their dream jobs and on that fateful day of November 25th 2014 both their lives changed forever. The game of cricket may well change as a result of this tragic accident, apparently only ever recorded 100 times before. New padding / protection may be introduced, batsman may change attitudes, bowlers may be reluctant to bowl short balls. Now isn’t the time to debate any future impact this has on the sport. The game will continue and carry with it the memory of Phillip Hughes.

As an English man who saw a cricketer play against my national team and within my country’s County system, my thoughts go out to the Australian cricketer 408, Phillip Hughes, his friends, family, team mates and all affected by his loss. RIP Young Man, forever 63 not out which I hope will be continued to be remembered as a mark of respect to somebody who’s talent the world will never get to see again.