Russel Grimson, Wests Cricket Club coach, speaks to Navneet Ganesh about Phil Hughes.
The untimely passing of Phillip Hughes, struck by a cricket ball just five days shy of his 26th birthday brought the cricketing world screeching to a standstill.
The reaction by the public to the passing of Phillip Hughes has been overwhelming both locally and overseas. Tributes have poured in from near and far by cricketers, sporting greats and the general public. The social media #Putoutyourbats campaign went viral in remembrance of a life taken away too young. Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with former cricketing greats Brian Lara, Shane Warne and Steve Waugh will be in attendance at his funeral, which has touched the lives of all Australians. The touring Indian team will also be there represented by Virat Kohli, Ravi Shastri and coach Duncan Fletcher.
Phil Hughes was the quintessential Australian lad loved for his personality, but also as he was a battler and not afraid to put in the hard yards. Raised in the small coastal country town of Macksville half way between Sydney and Brisbane, his first love was being on the farm. It was a joy that he continued to have and one day hoped to return to the farm after his cricket days were over.
His interest in cricket began as a young boy and his precocious talent would lead him to Sydney playing Grade cricket for Western Suburbs. His rise was rapid, and at just 19 years of age, Hughes underlined why he was one of the most exciting young talents around when he became the youngest player to score a century in the Sheffield Shield final.
The Wests Cricket Club was founded in 1895 and was instrumental in the development of Australian skipper Michael Clarke, who came to the club at 13 years of age. Along with Clarke and Hughes, Mitchell Starc also calls Wests home.
“I did not have the privilege of personally coaching Hughes, but have interacted with him on several occasions,” said current Wests coach Russel Grimson.
“We were lucky enough to have him join us at Wests. Phil was an exceptional talent on the cricket field.”
Grimson recounted an incident that will long be remembered by the club, “Even though Hughesy had international duties, he came back once and captained our side for a small period in a T20 match. It touched a lot of hearts.”
Phil Hughes’ passing was a shock. “It was an unbelievable freakish accident. No blame can be placed on anyone. It was sad to see Phil was unfortunately the one [who got hit].”
It is testament to Hughes’ character and personality that has endeared him to the public. “Phil will be remembered for his enthusiasm, determination and willingness to do the hard work.”
The Wests Cricket Club members gathered in numbers to remember Hughes last Friday. “It gave us a chance to remember Phil’s life. We put a message on the scoreboard. It was great to see the club come together. All players wore black arm bands and in the next game, we will have 408 on the outfield.”
As players and the community mourns the loss of a rising star, cricket will and must continue. If there was at all any positive over the last week, it was the fact that it has “brought the cricket community together,” and the Wests Cricket Club are “looking forward to getting back on the paddock,” and playing in the spirit of Phil Hughes.
Phil Hughes was earmarked as a future leader of Australian cricket and showed maturity beyond his years. Above all he was widely respected. The cricket world is poorer for his loss.
Navneet Ganesh is the founder of Infinity Cricket and is passionate about the sport and its development. He founded Infinity Cricket in 2010 with a vision of ‘Connecting people through Cricket.