Image courtesy of: The Indian Express
Below is a transcript of Australia captain Michael Clarke’s touching tribute to his “little brother” Phillip Hughes.
Hughes, who will be buried in his hometown of Macksville, tragically passed away at the age of 25 when he was struck on the side of the neck by a bouncer from New South Wales pace bowler Sean Abbott.
Here is Clarke’s eulogy in full:
He’d definitely be calling me a ‘sook’ right now, that’s for sure. I’m deeply honoured to have been asked by Phillip’s family to speak today.
I’m humbled to be in the presence of Hughesy’s family, his friends, and his community.
He was so proud of Macksville and it’s easy to see why today. Taken from the game and his family and friends at the age of just 25, he left a mark on the game that needs no embellishment.
I don’t know about you, but I keep looking for him. I know it’s crazy but I expect any minute to take a call from him.
I want to see his face pop around the corner. Is this what we call the spirit of cricket? If so, then his spirit is still with me and I hope it never leaves.
I walked to the middle of the SCG on Thursday night and I (felt) 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 played out the dreams we had in our heads as boys.
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.
I stood there at the wicket, I knelt down to touch the grass. I swear he was there with me, picking me up off my feet to check if I was OK. Telling me we just needed to dig in and get through to tea.
Telling me off for that loose shot I played. Chatting about what movie we might watch that night, and then passing on a useless fact about cows.
And I can see him swagger back up to the other end, grin at the bowler and call me through for a run in such a booming voice that a bloke in the carpark could hear it.
That’s the heart of a man who lived his life and this wonderful game we played. And his soul enriched not just our sport but all of our lives.
Is this what indigenous Australians believe about a person’s spirit being connected with the land upon which they walk?
If so, I know they are right about the SCG. His spirit has touched us and it will forever be a sacred ground for me.
I can feel his presence there and I can see how he’s touched so many people around the world. The tributes to him from cricket lovers kept me going. The photos, the words, the prayers, and the sense of communion in these people from across the globe have shown me his spirit in action.
It has sustained me and overwhelmed me in equal measure. And the love of my band of baggy green and gold brothers and sisters has held me up when I thought I couldn’t proceed. His spirit has brought us closer together, something I know must be his spirit at work. Because it’s so consistent with the way he lived and worked.
Is this what we call the spirit of cricket? From the little girl holding a candlelight tribute to masters of the game like Tendulkar, Warne and Lara, the spirit of cricket binds us all together. We feel it in the thrill of a cover drive. Or the taking of a screamer at gully, whether by a 12-year-old boy or by Brendan McCullum in Dubai. It is in the brilliant five-wicket haul, just as significant to the players in a Western Suburbs club game as it is in a Test match.
The bonds that lead to cricketers from around the world putting their bats out, that saw people who didn’t even know Phillip lay flowers and that brought every cricketing nation on earth to make its own heartfelt tribute.
The bonds that saw players old and new rush to his bed side. From wherever they heard the news to say their prayers and farewells. This is what makes 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.