Australia shattered as Hughes is buried
MACKSVILLE, Australia - Cricketing greats bid an emotional farewell to Phillip Hughes at a funeral service in his home town yesterday, as Australia stopped to remember the batsman whose death from a freak injury sent shock waves through the sport.
A lone cricket bat rested against the coffin at a packed service in his former high school hall in Macksville on the New South Wales coast in front of his heartbroken parents, family, friends and a shattered Australian Test team.
"Taken from the game, his family and loved ones at the age of just 25, left a mark on our game that needs no embellishment," tearful captain Michael Clarke told the funeral.
"I don't know about you but I keep looking for him."
Hughes, who had played 26 Tests and was on the cusp of a recall, died from bleeding on the brain last Thursday after being hit on the base of the skull by a rising ball at the Sydney Cricket Ground during a domestic match.
His tragic death stunned Australia, where cricket is considered the national game, and prompted a rescheduling of the upcoming India Test series, while fans around the world placed bats outside their front doors as a mark of respect.
Clarke said he walked to the middle of the SCG: "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.
"I stood there at the wicket, I knelt down and touched the grass, I swear he was with me, telling me we just needed to dig in and get through to tea."
Clarke said the tributes offered from sports stars and fans across the globe had sustained him, from a little girl holding a candle in tribute, to masters of the game such as Sachin Tendulkar expressing sorrow.
"This is what makes our game the greatest game in the world. We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on," he added.
"So rest in peace my little brother. I will see you out in the middle."
In Hughes's small home town of Macksville on Australia's east coast, with a population of just 2500, tributes to the opening batsman hung in shop windows, while ribbons in the green and gold colours of the Australian Test team adorned telephone poles.
Hughes died after his vertebral artery split when hit by the ball, leading to massive bleeding on the brain.