On 25th November, when Sean Abbott ran with the ball in his hand, never did he know that the next bouncer he is going to bowl will cast a long shadow in the world of Cricket. On the receiving end was Phillip Hughes, a South Australian cricketer, batting on 63 not out. In attempting a hook, Hughes went quickly into the shot and was struck on his rear neck below the helmet. Moments later, Phil collapsed on the pitch, head hitting the ground first.
What happened in the following days had left the cricketing world in a state of despair and shock. Hughes never recovered from the injury and died three days before his 26th birthday. But since the tragic incident, something beautiful has emerged. The cricket has united like never before. And the spirit of the game seems to have been re-found. In a distant land in Sharjah New Zealand, playing against Pakistan, didn’t bowl a single bouncer in the 3rd test match, neither was any celebrations for any of the twenty wickets. McCullum played with a jersey written “PH” and dedicated his 200 to Hughes. Now is this the spirit of cricket? And the answer is a definite yes. Although that’s not the only way to do it but that’s the way you hold your spirits up and play the game.
And when Michael Clarke, the Australian captain and one of the closest friends of Hughes, in his emotional funeral speech said “Phillip’s spirit, which is now a part of our game forever, will act as a custodian of the sport we love”, he threw open the gates for the change which cricketing fans had been eagerly waiting for. He further added with a sigh “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.”
Do these words, from the captain of most aggressive team, mean that the Australians, and the rest, are ready to move into a new dimension in the game? Will the era of sledging and taunting be over? Will the game infuse a sense and friendship and warmth in relationship? I can’t say ‘yes’ neither can I say a ‘no’. But I was pretty relieved to see the concerns from Mitchell Johnson, when he hit Virat Kohli with a bouncer. I don’t know what will happen in the distant future; neither do I know how long Phil’s spirit will be alive on the cricket field, but yes I do hope that someday cricket will be played the way it was meant to be played. And remember, tough doesn’t mean ugly and nor the other way round!!!
#RIP Phillip Hughes
Niraj is a member of LSD and a cricket lover. He wrote this optimistic piece after looking at the developments that followed the tragic death of Phil Hughes.