Philip Hughes

Philip HughesAs I arrived in Australia for my fourth and final visit of the year a tragedy was unfolding which would have a profound effect on the whole nation.

Philip Hughes, a 25 year old cricketer, was playing a match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. He was at the crease ready to receive the next ball.

Bowler Sean Abbott took his run up, bowled the ball and changed the lives of both players, and so many others, forever.

The ball hit Philip in the neck, he turned looking dazed and then collapsed face down. Philip didn’t regain consciousness passing away 2 days later.

Being here and seeing the reaction that followed those dreadful events was both unsettling and, in a way, a privilege.

Cricket is Australia’s national game; the players true heroes to a large part of the population. It was as if this country stopped as it tried to make sense of what had taken place. This is cricket, how could this happen?

I don’t follow cricket; it’s not my sport. As such I didn’t know Philip Hughes. I wasn’t aware of his career, his highs and lows and the fact that it was generally accepted he was on his way back into the Australian nation team. But what has become clear since his death was the incredible affection the cricket world had for this guy.

On the evening news of his death broke a presenter was talking about Philip with the stations senior cricket correspondent. This was a man who had clearly been about and seen many events in his life, but on this occasion he could barely contain his emotions as he discussed the events and the man himself. Several times his voice cracked.

#putoutyourbat was trending as people all over the world paid tribute by placing their cricket bats outside their houses, clubs, schools. Other sports showed their respects; a minutes applause took place prior to the England v Australia Rugby match at Twickenham.

Philips funeral took place at his home town of Macksville, a rural community in North East New South Wales. The streets were lined with hundreds of people who, as the coffin went passed stepped in behind it and walked to the towns school for the service.

It appeared that the whole town had come out to say farewell to the local hero who had made good and to show support for the family left to try and come to terms with their loss.

RIP Philip Hughes.

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