A Sheffield Shield game between two strong domestic teams, South Australia and New South Wales, started on 25th November with more eyes on it than usual for a state game; NSW’s side included as many as five 2015 Ashes hopefuls, and South Australia’s Callum Ferguson and Phil Hughes were looking to stake a claim for a regular Test place.
As the cricketing world knows all too well, after a gutsy innings of 63 not out, which lasted 161 balls and included 9 fours, Hughes was hit on the head by a Sean Abbott bouncer, and collapsed in dramatic condition. Playing against his former state, the 25-year-old left-hander had many close friends on each side, and it was no surprise that upon his fall to the ground, a number of NSW fielders surrounded him to see if he was alright.
Of course, this was not the case. Having apparently been hit on the skull, just beneath his helmet, Hughes was rushed to hospital, where he was placed in an induced coma. In the past year, many world-renowned stars of sport have been in a similar position, for example Michael Schumacher and Jules Bianchi, and have pulled through. Again, the world’s thoughts and prayers went to Hughes, and there was a real hope that he would end up just fine.
But, on the morning of 27th November, it was announced that despite the best efforts of the hospital, Phillip Joel Hughes had passed away. The cricketing world mourned. Former Somerset batsman Nick Compton, a close friend of Hughes when the two played for Western Districts in Sydney, was hit hard by the tragedy, as he showed with an emotional post on his blog, saying “he was a very, very close friend of mine. He was a cheeky, funny, positive guy. Looking back, I feel like he’s made the most of his 25 years and it breaks my heart to think of a guy who I certainly thought would go down in the record books as one of the better run-scorers in Australian cricket.”
As would be expected, a larger number of the current Somerset playing staff also tweeted their condolences. Club captain Marcus Trescothick wrote “Such sad news to wake up to, thoughts are with the Hughes family, such a tragic loss but Phil will always be remembered”, and wicket-keeper Craig Kieswetter tweeted “Absolutely devastating news about Phil Hughes! #RIPPhilHughes”. All-rounder Peter Trego said “It’s just too sad for words!! Fine player & a fine young man!! #RIPHughesy” on his feed, and Irish spin bowler George Dockrell tweeted “very sad news this morning to hear of the passing of Phil Hughes. Thoughts are with his family and friends. #RIPPhilHughes”
My personal memories of watching Hughes bat live relate to a heavy Somerset defeat at the County Ground in the Friends Life t20 back in 2012. Having come in after a punchy 47 by Moeen Ali, Hughes proceeded to calmly and assertively punish some wayward bowling in his unglamorous but completely necessary innings of 41 from 32 deliveries. On an overcast Sunday, Hughes showed his cricketing nous by not trying to grab the headlines from team-mates Ali or Gareth Andrew, but instead contributed with a gritty innings. For me, this summarizes his career in cricket very aptly. Hughes was punchy, determined, and, seemingly, destined to succeed; a good player, who never had the opportunity to become a great.
Phillip Joel Hughes Career Batting Stats:
Tests: 26 matches, 49 innings, 1535 runs, 32.65 average, 160 high score
ODIs: 25 matches, 24 innings, 826 runs, 35.91 average, 138* high score
First-Class: 114 matches, 209 innings, 9023 runs, 46.51 average, 243* high score
List A: 91 matches, 89 innings, 3639 runs, 47.25 average, 202* high score
Twenty20: 34 matches, 34 innings, 1110 runs, 42.69 average, 87* high score