Sheffield Shield game, Sydney, a bouncer on the side of his head. The words are not enough to describe this incident. November 27, 2014, is literally a terrible day for the game of cricket. Not just for the Australians, but the entire cricketing world remembers this day as a black day. World of cricket united on this story. 4 years back, these days were the hardest time the game’s ever faced on an emotional level. Yes, even today, the entire cricketing world miss him. Phillip Hughes, we miss you, Brother!
Phillip Joel Hughes was Australia’s 408th cap. He was a fiercely determined player. The Team, which produced Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden in past, were in search of a talented Opener. Especially during that time, the magnitude of change in Australia was too high. Australia was in South Africa with players like Marcus North, Phillip Hughes, and Andrew McDonald. Even the wicketkeeper Brad Haddin also lacked experience. Before 12 months, the same positions had been occupied by Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Shane Warne, and Justin Langer. It was really tough to replace players like that.
In the Practice match, Hughes made a solid 53, which earned him the 408th cap. He made his debut in the first Test match at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg. But Unfortunately, he failed to leave a mark in the first innings. Hughes was dismissed for a duck in his first Test innings by Dale Steyn off just the fourth ball of the match. But, he showed his class in the second innings, top scoring the innings with a beautiful 75. It included 11 fours and one six. A credit to his determination. Everyone believed that he is the perfect replacement for Hayden. Everyone including the Australian coach filled him with praise. He said;
“He’s going to be a pugnacious, strong backfoot player that’s willuging to take on any contest and he’s shown that in his first Test to day.”
And then comes the second test at Kingsmead Durban. Hughes doesn’t want to miss that opportunity. When greats like Sir Donald Bradman took 20 years to score a century in each innings of a Test, the little left-handed opening batsman achieved the feat in his second test. Hughes’ debut century in the first innings, brought up with consecutive sixes. At the age of 20 years and 96 days, he became both the youngest Australian since Doug Walters to score a Test century. He was also the youngest player from any country to score a century in both innings of a Test match. Hughes had already made a name for himself.
The unconventional and thrilling left-handed opening batsman had so many ups and downs in his carrier. He had been ‘in and out’. As the classic dialogue,” form is temporary, but class is permanent”, he never lacked his class. When he was at his best, it was a treat to watch. On 11 January 2013, he became the first Australian batsman in the history of ODI cricket to score a century on debut. He didn’t have much success in ODI. He went on to play 26 Tests and 25 one-day internationals. In Tests, he scored 1,535 runs at an average of 32.66, with 3 centuries. In One-dayers, he had a tally of 826 runs at an average of 35.91, with 2 centuries.
No one would forget the shield match on November 25. Hughes was on 63 when he was struck on the neck by a short-pitched delivery. Sean Abbot has done nothing wrong. He just bowled his heart out for New South Wales, not intended to hurt him. Hughes scored most of his runs square of the wicket through adventurous cuts and hooks. Even while attempting such a shot, he was hit. Just Hard luck!
A Cricket ball leading to vertebral artery dissection, which then led to a subarachnoid haemorrhage, was very rare. Even though he underwent surgery, he was not able to regain consciousness. And finally, Hughes lost to his injuries and left the world three days before his 26th birthday.
Four years on, India is in Australia for another series. Unlike the former team, this Aussie team is under tremendous pressure. They are in search of talents and match winners. If Hughes were there, he would be 29, and at this peak age, he could make a huge impact. Because above all, Cricket was Phillip’s life. That’s why even today, 4 years later, we say “63 not out”. Thinking of you today Hugh. #63Notout!