Macksville - Australia bid an emotional farewell to cricketer Phillip Hughes at a
funeral in his hometown on Wednesday with a live coast-to-coast
broadcast allowing a nation to unite in celebration of the life of a
sportsman cut down in his prime.
Eight days after Hughes was
struck by a ball on the back of the head and six after he died from the
catastrophic injuries that resulted, his family, friends and a host of
cricketing greats gathered at Macksville High School.
Australia Chief Executive James Sutherland spoke for many when he tried
to make sense of the huge outpouring of grief that followed the tragic
death of the left-handed batsman a few days short of his 26th birthday.
wave of emotion that has washed over our country this past week tells
us so much about the affection millions felt for Phillip and also about
the privileged place cricket has near the heart of this nation," he
"Quite simply, the boy from this proud community of Macksville, personified the spirit of Australian cricket.
since Bradman, the image of the innocent country boy playing in the
backyard while dreaming of wearing a baggy green cap has become
entrenched in our psyche. It's our foundation myth as a cricketing
Some 1,000 mourners, mostly locals with a smattering of
luminaries including Prime Minister Tony Abbott, dabbed away tears and
perspiration in the baking heat of the school hall with thousands more
watching on screens in the sunshine outside.
From the eulogies,
they learned of a beloved son, brother, cousin and friend whose passion
for cricket was matched only by his enthusiasm for the Angus cattle he
helped raise on the family farm.
They were also reminded of a
small town boy with a prodigious talent for hitting a ball with a bat
who headed down the coast to big city Sydney as a teenager and ended up
playing 26 tests for his country.
Australia captain Michael Clarke
broke down in tears for the second time in a few days as he paid public
tribute to his former team mate and friend.
which is now part of our game forever, will act as a custodian of the
sport we all love. We must listen to it," he said, struggling to contain
"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 will see you out in the middle."
greats of the game such as Shane Warne, Ricky Ponting and Glenn McGrath
were in attendance, while Richard Hadlee, Brian Lara and India captain
Virat Kohli represented the wider cricket world.
New South Wales
paceman Sean Abbott, who delivered the bouncer that dealt the fatal blow
in a state match at the Sydney Cricket Ground last Tuesday, was also
among the mourners.
When he suffered the injury, Hughes was
batting for a recall to the Australia side for the opening match in the
test series against India, which has since been rescheduled.
continued to flood in from around the world on Wednesday, many joining
the viral campaign to get people to place cricket bats outside homes,
workplaces and at sports grounds in tribute to Hughes.
own bat rested against the coffin throughout a service which concluded
with "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me", the song Elton John dedicated to
the cricketer when he played it in a concert in Munich last week.
and fellow cricketers Aaron Finch and Tom Cooper joined Hughes's father
and brother among the pallbearers and delivered the coffin to the
hearse, which then set off in a procession through the town.
Hughes was cremated in a private ceremony.