Phil Hughes


There is little I can say which will adequately convey the brutal sense of shock and sadness we all share this morning.

A young man, only twenty five years old, went off to play a cricket match and never returned.

Greg and Virginia Hughes could never have seriously imagined that when their son went out to bat at the SCG, he was putting his life on the line.

Their loss is inexpressible.

For us, at this remove, perhaps the over-riding feeling is disbelief. How can something like this happen in 2014? No one died during Bodyline.

This tragedy will change so many people’s lives. For Michael Clarke, Darren Lehmann and the rest of the Australian squad, and for the South Australia and New South Wales teams, cricket will never be quite the same again. There will forever be an empty seat in their dressing room.

Our sympathies must emphatically extend to Sean Abbott. It is impossible to imagine what he must now be going through.

When someone dies, there is nothing one can say which makes it better. No words will ameliorate. But there is one point worth making.

Cricket is one big club. More than that – we are a family. We may bicker and squabble, but when something like this happens we come together, united by our shared values, experiences, and the bonds our game weaves between us.

On the field of play, England and Australia are bitter foes and rivals. Scratch the surface, though, and we are blood.

Many people will say that these events will put so many things in true perspective. Cricket should not be a matter of life and death. It’s much less important than that.


  • As you say there is nothing we can say that will help in any way but the reaction from all over the cricketing world shows just how supportive it can be. I spoke to my daughter who lives in Sydney and she told me that the Abbott is being give so much support by everyone but I honestly do not know how he can get over this and play cricket again

  • Thank you for these words.
    While I’m sure all cricket fans are shocked at this terrible news I’m sure I’m not the only Australian fan that shed a few tears this morning thinking about the awful waste and the devastation that all the families and players must be going through.

  • Beautifully put. The first thing that popped into my mind this morning as I heard the news was also that Shankly quote. Of course he never intended it to be taken as seriously as it consequently was, but that is beside the point. Sport is a force for good more often than not, but it is entirely insignificant when one thinks of what Hughes’ parents and Sister are going through right now. it is utterly meaningless when one thinks of how Abbott must be feeling, of the weight he will have to carry around with him for the rest of his life because of a one in a million accident. I hope he can bowl again as I hope that Phil Hughes’ family will be able to, one day, watch the game their son loved so much again. At the very least it would mean that they will have been able to find a way through this awful and truly tragic time.

  • I was grumbling to myself early this morning at the thought of starting early for work yet again this week – and then I heard of Phil’ s tragic death – At least I can come home to my family this evening. Phil cannot anymore – RIP mate!

  • What a tragedy, such a massive loss to the cricketing community.

    I, like millions around the world, play cricket every weekend because we love the game. We take it for granted as well, but that’s ok because we love cricket, like what its about and how it brings people together.

    We share that emotion and passion with Phil Hughes – however the difference being is that he was playing, not only for his love of the game, but to force his way into the Australian Test team. Who gets to do that? He was at the top of his profession, fighting his way back, knowing a big score would see him replace the injured Michael Clarke – 63 not out, looking good in front of the selectors, then it only took one ball and it was all over.

    I would love to be fighting hard to play cricket for Australia, wear the Baggy Green and do my family proud – he was so lucky he got to do that, he scored twin centuries against South Africa in only his second test match, the youngest to ever do so (he was 20), he scored a double hundred in a ODI, he scored a hundred in his debut ODI – who does that? What a career he had, and tragically, what a career he will never have.

    Whilst a sad occasion for the cricketing world, this will not change me and my passion for the game, simply because I just love cricket.

    RIP Phil Hughes.

  • Well said!! RIP Phil Hughes and condolences to his family. Also thinking of Sean Abbott today…gutted

  • Lovely words Maxie. I don’t have any power to add to them, but for anyone who can bear it, I recommend checking out Peter Lalor’s pieces in the Australian over the last couple of days – wonderful, poignant writing in the midst of a ghastly situation.
    Forever 63 not out RIP Phillip Hughes.

  • “A young man, only twenty five years old, went off to play a cricket match and never returned.”

    That’s it, isn’t it? So quick, so cruel. Just gone.

    A lovely tribute, Maxie, thank you.

  • Over the years, the oh so many years of watching cricket, a game I love beyond reason or rationality my emotions have like those of many others ridden the roller coaster of hope to despair and then endured the return journey.

    We have all come to crave the hope that does in fact spring eternal before the toss of a much anticipated series in the way that resembles nothing so much as a junkie looking for their next fix.

    The joyous swoop of the heart, the sotto vocé Yes! And accompanying fist pump as your team claim the early wickets you desperately want them to take. Making you feel a little foolish as you sit on your own in the early morning hours in front of the television.

    The sickening emptiness as your stomach seems to fall out of your body to be replaced by the ice cold canon ball of absolute despair as the middle order collapses for not many.

    The almost unbearable hope that you refuse to acknowledge as the tail starts to wag, you watch between your fingers and hardly dare breathe as they come closer to the total that would save or win the match.

    The soaring elation of the subsequent win against the odds.

    The desperate, gruff denial of emotional involvement when they lose.
    I suspect we can all admit to having been consumed emotionally by the game to some degree. It is after all why we watch.

    Today the gamut of emotions are tragically complete. Cricket has never made me so unutterably sad and it has never before reduced me to tears.

    Vale Phillip Hughes.

  • Good words, Maxie.

    Sean Abbott is even younger than poor Phillip Hughes (it would have been Hughes’s 26th birthday this coming Sunday). Just 22, with his whole cricketing career ahead of him, this will now blight the rest of that career. However much everyone tells him that he isn’t to blame, and he isn’t, he will hurt for the rest of his life over this tragedy. Whenever his name appears in the media, this incident will come up. It’s a horrible, horrible burden for anyone to bear. I wouldn’t blame him if he got out of cricket for good. Though obviously I hope he doesn’t, it might be the best thing for him.

    • We cricket followers must do whatever we can to try and ensure that Sean knows he has everyone’s support, and I very much hope he can and will want to continue his career.

      What has happened has happened and will never go away, but if he does want to continue playing, his career must never be felt by anyone, especially he himself and his family, to be blighted. There will be a terrible, past, moment in it, but I would like him to be selected for Australia, and for him to play, if the match next week takes place.

      My very best to all cricketers, Phil’s family and friends, and Sean.

  • This tragedy is beyond sadness. Beautiful words Maxie, I know you speak for us all, and I thank you for them!
    RIP Phil….forever…Not Out!

  • I never knew Phil Hughes – he never played for any of my clubs, or my country yet i feel a great big hole in my life, so how the people involved with him must feel. My deepest sympathies to the Hughes family, to poor Sean Abbott and to the Ausralian cricketing fraternity

  • I read Full Toss regularly. It’s always thought-provoking and often (to me) intensely irritating but you are so right about this – there is one cricket family.

    I have never responded or contributed before but your short piece is wholly apt in both words and sentiments. Thank you for expressing so eloquently and appropriately what so many are feeling.

  • This is just terribly sad. After a couple of days of hoping he would make it, my stomach just sank when I came to know this morning. I can’t imagine how his family and friends feel. Peace be with them.


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