MONDAY, 1 DECEMBER 2014
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On the weekend, at grounds around our country, the Australian cricket family wore black armbands to mourn the loss of one of their own.
From the manicured wickets of the first grade to the local synthetic…from young Kanga cricketers just beginning their love affair with the game to wily old veterans putting their backs through one last test of optimism…everyone paused to remember Phillip Hughes.
In our suburban streets and country towns, tens of thousands of Australians ‘put their bats out’ to remember the piercing cut shot, the fantastic cheeky grin and the fighting qualities of a country boy who loved playing for his country.
In Sharjah, New Zealand and Pakistan took a day off from their Test – and when they resumed, they played in a very different way.
The players didn’t celebrate their personal victories; their thoughts were with Phillip’s family and friends, that was what was most important – not the Test match.
At Twickenham, the Wallabies and the English fans celebrated Phillips’ life with a minute of applause.
In the A-League game between Adelaide United and Melbourne Victory, the crowd rose as one at the 63rd minute.
What is it about Phillip Hughes, his career, his passing that captured worldwide attention?
This morning I spoke with Dave O’Neil, the President of Western Suburbs Cricket Club at the time Phillip joined as a boy from the bush, chasing his dream.
He paid tribute to Phillip’s brilliance and his potential – the records he holds and the records he would have set.
Dave also told me something of Phillip’s qualities and his values – and the wonderful family who gave them to him and to whom we offer our heartfelt condolences.
Phillip Hughes had courage, he had resilience, he had an extraordinary work ethic – dropped four times from the Australian side but bouncing back, piling on the runs in the Shield competition.
A fantastic team man - a quality obvious from the universal reaction of his devastated teammates.
And - perhaps unusually in the ultra-competitive world of ultra-professional modern sport –Phillip was deeply admired and respected by his opponents.
In remembering Phillip Hughes, Australia and indeed the world cricket family has been at its generous, compassionate best.
But perhaps for Australian Captain Michael Clarke this has been his finest hour in a very distinguished career.
He has found the words to describe our sadness, to speak for Phillip’s family, for his teammates and for his country.
And we commend Michael for the way he reached out, on behalf of all Australians, to Sean Abbott, offering to pad up and face the first ball that Sean bowls on his return.
Our nation will remember Phillip Hughes not for how he died - but for how he lived, for what he loved.
And perhaps today all of us should remember to tell the people we care for, how much we love them.
Because life is bigger, more precious and more fickle than any game.
May he rest in peace.
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