On Thursday, November 27th, 2014, Australian cricket lost one of it’s best and brightest to the game he loved.
Felled by a regulation delivery, Phillip Joel Hughes never regained consciousness after being transported to St Vincent’s Hospital.
Hughes grew up in Macksville on the New South Wales North coast. He began playing senior cricket at the age of 12 and moved to Sydney to play Grade cricket at the age of 17.
His offside game was strong. It came from being only able to hit to the offside in backyard cricket, as the kitchen window was on the leg side and he didn’t want to risk breaking it.
A dashing, left handed opener, he debuted for New South Wales in first class cricket at the tender age of 18. He was the youngest NSW debutant since Michael Clarke made his debut in 1999.
Two years later and he was called upon by the Test side to replace the legendary Matthew Hayden.
In just his second Test match he scored back to back hundreds, becoming the youngest player to achieve the feat in Test history, and the youngest Australian to score a Test century since Doug Walters.
Hughes also joined elite company. He became just the fourth Australian to have scored multiple Test centuries by the age of 21. The other three; Don Bradman, Neil Harvey and Doug Walters.
Whilst he was in and out of the Test side throughout his career, he always forced his way back in by scoring runs at domestic level and was seen as the ultimate professional.
Former Australian opener, Justin Langer spoke of Hughes’ talent last year, saying that whilst Hughes had 19 first class centuries, when Langer was his age, he had just the one.
In what would be Hughes’ second last Test match, he posted a fighting 81 not out in the first match of the 2013 Ashes series.
It was typical of a more mature Hughes. He shelved the expansive back foot shots and looked to knock the ball in to space and build his innings.
Whilst the plaudits there went to Ashton Agar, Hughes was the man who anchored the record breaking tenth wicket stand.
He worked hard on his game after it seemed like he had a technique deficiency and plundered runs at state level to bring his name to the top of the list when Michael Clarke injured his hamstring during an ODI against South Africa.
In making his 63* against New South Wales it appeared as though he was about to get the tap on the shoulder that he deserved.
Then tragedy struck. A nation is in mourning and indeed, so is the wider international community.
Sydney Grade Cricket has been cancelled for the weekend.
Tributes have flown in from players all over the world. England captain, Alastair Cook, passed on his condolences.
The Test match between New Zealand and Pakistan in Sharjah has been suspended, whilst the tour match between a CA XI and India has been called off.
Hughes’ namesake, who plays baseball for the Minesotta Twins, has sent his condolences.
The National Rugby League posted their best wishes to the Hughes and Abbott families, whilst English Premier League giants, Liverpool said that both families would never walk alone.
And that just about sums it up.
Vale Phillip Joel Hughes.
Born: November 30 1988
Test Cap: 408
ODI Cap: 198
T20I Cap: 70
63 Not Out