Mass turnout for Hughes funeral

BY CHARL BOSCH - DECEMBER 3, 2014

An emotional Australian cricket captain, Michael Clark, has told mourners at the funeral of fellow cricketer Phillip Hughes that he still expects a phone call from the man he once described as the little brother he never had, and that he continues to “look out for him”.

Twenty-five year old Hughes, who would have turned 26 this past Sunday, died in hospital last Thursday after being struck in the neck by bouncer of bowler Sean Abbot, during a domestic match at the Sydney Cricket Grounds (SCG) two days before. Doctors determined that a subarachnoid haemorrhage, caused by the bursting of a compressed artery forcing blood into the brain area, had resulted in Hughes’ death.

“I walked in the middle of the SCG on Thursday night. Those same blades of grass beneath my feet where he and I and so many of his mates here today have built partnerships, taken chances and lived out the dreams we painted in our heads as boys,” a teary Clark told the 1 000 gathers inside the recreation centre in Hughes hometown of Macksville, New South Wales on Wednesday.

It’s been reported that some 5 000 people turned for the funeral in the town with a population of 2 500. Among those included Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Cricket greats Shane Warne, Brain Lara, Sachin Tendulkar, Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, former Test captain Ricky Ponting and the entire national test team.

“The same stands where the crowds rose to their feet to cheer him on and that same fence he sent the ball to time and time again. And it’s now forever the place where he fell,” Clark continued.

“I stood there at the wicket, I kneeled down and touched the grass. I swear he was with me, picking me up off my feet to check if I was okay, telling me we just needed to dig in and get through to tea. Is this what we call the spirit? If so, then his spirit is still with me and I hope it never leaves.”

Clark stated that the massive outpouring of grief internationally, has once shown that “our game the greatest game in the world”.

“Phillip's spirit, which is now part of our game forever, will act as a custodian of the sport we all love. We must listen to it. We must cherish it. We must learn from it. We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on. So rest in peace, my little brother, I’ll see you out in the middle.”

Hughes, who starred in 26 Tests and 25 One Day Internationals for Australia and also played for the Mumbai Indians during the 2013/2014 Indian Premier League tournament, had been on 63 not out at the time and was also the 408th test player in Australia’s history – both which featured promptly throughout the funeral.

 

CAPTION: Coffin of Phillip Hughes being taken to the Macksville Recreation Centre. IMAGE sourced from sport.ndtv.com