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Why Phil Hughes' death resonates

  • 01 December 2014

I remember first seeing Phil Hughes bat at the Sydney Cricket Ground in his first game for NSW back in 2007 where he scored 53. He was the new ‘boy from the bush’ with a slightly unorthodox left-handed style. He was then only 18, being born in our bicentenary year. 

I later witnessed his highest test score at the SCG, 87 – traditionally the unlucky number for Australian cricketers – against Sri Lanka in January 2013, the second highest score in the Australian innings of 432. He was a strong and confident player and you always felt there was a chance of excitement when he was there. 

Sadly he never scored a test century in Australia, but he scored two in South Africa in Durban in 2009. His century in each innings in Durban in March 2009 was achieved at the young age of 20 year and 98 days – 31 days younger than the great Bradman achieved.

Death at 25 is a shock, whether it is a famous cricketer or a young person setting out on their life and career. I think back to what I had managed to achieve at 25, and then think about what if that had been all I managed to do. What possibilities were there for Phil Hughes? Once again he seemed on his way back to the Australian team having recently scored 243 for an Australian A side in August against South Africa.

He was a professional cricketer, who was chosen to play for his country, the dream of every young cricketer. The hard part for the professional cricketer often comes at the end of their career – what do they do next? Sadly Hughes will never reach that quandary.

Those of us who have played cricket know there is a risk, but is it life threatening? How was it possible? I have been hit on the head several times by a cricket ball, and was nearly concussed once as an umpire, but I never imagined the chance of a fatal injury as happened this week at the SCG. 

Playing cricket it is about enjoyment and participation with your team mates. Getting a low score or being hit all over the ground as a bowler can be disheartening, but you try again the next game and hope for the best. Sadly for Phil Hughes his last game was a draw and he wYeas recorded as retired hurt for 63,