Cricket family mourns shock death of Hughes
PHILLIP Joel Hughes will remain forever 63 not out at the SCG.
The 25-year-old lost his battle for life yesterday, passing away at St Vincent's Hospital in Sydney where he had been in intensive care since being hit at the base of the skull while batting for South Australia on day one of a Sheffield Shield match against his home state New South Wales on Tuesday.
Messages of support had poured in from cricketers, sportspeople and members of the public from across Australia and around the world as doctors tried to save Hughes' life.
That desperate hope for the best turned to an outpouring of grief yesterday after Australian team doctor Peter Brukner released a statement through Cricket Australia to say the much-loved left-handed batsman had passed away.
"It is my sad duty to inform you that a short time ago Phillip Hughes passed away," the statement read.
"He never regained consciousness following his injury on Tuesday.
"He was not in pain before he passed and was surrounded by his family and close friends."
One of those close friends, former New South Wales teammate and Australian captain Michael Clarke, read a statement at a press conference at the hospital on behalf of the Hughes family, his father Greg, mother Virginia, brother Jason and sister Megan.
Hughes was the son of a banana farmer from Macksville in northern New South Wales, and showed prodigious talent with the bat from a young age.
His home town is in shock. The Nambucca Valley Shire Council joined the Macksville Ex-Services Junior Cricket Club and Bowraville Rugby League in sending their condolences.
"Macksville is a strong and close community," the statement said. "We are all shocked and saddened by what has happened to Phillip.
"We are all very proud of Phillip's achievements and will remember him fondly as a favourite son.
"Phillip enjoyed returning home to spend time on the farm with his family and was always the warm unaffected country boy who was such a delight to be around."
He struggled at times to play the short ball, although that wasn't evident during the two innings he will be remembered for most.
On Australia's tour of South Africa in 2009, the 20-year-old became the youngest player to score back-to-back Test centuries, making 115 and 160 at the Kingsmead ground in Durban against an attack that included Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini, Jacques Kallis and Morne Morkel.
Hughes scored just one more Test century after that breakthrough series in South Africa, compiling a patient 126 against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2011.
But optimism was rising within Australian ranks that he was ready to return to international cricket, with selector Rod Marsh singing his praises earlier this week.
Hughes was widely considered the front-runner to replace the injured Clarke for the first Test against India at the Gabba next week, following his career-best first-class score of 243 not out for Australia A in August, and a consistent start to the Sheffield Shield season.
He was pushing his cause when he advanced to 63 from 160 balls for his adopted South Australia on Tuesday.
The 161st delivery will forever be remembered as the saddest bowled in Australian cricket.
Vale Phillip Hughes
30/11/1988 - 27/11/2014
First-class matches: 114
First-class runs: 9023
Highest first-class score: 243 not out
First-class centuries: 26
First-class average: 46.51
Test matches: 26
Test runs: 1535
Highest Test score: 160
Test average: 32.65
Test hundreds: 3
Test debut: v South Africa, February 26, 2009
Youngest player to score a century in both innings of a Test (20 years, 96 days)
Youngest player to score a century in a Sheffield Shield Final
Only Australian to score a century on his ODI debut
First Australian to score a double ton in a limited-overs first-class match
Shares record for Australian 10th wicket partnership with Ashton Agar (163 v England at Trent Bridge, 2013)