Phillips Hughes will be forever ‘63 not out’

Michael Clarke: Emotional words. Picture: Reuters

Michael Clarke: Emotional words. Picture: Reuters

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Cricket Australia has amended the scorecard from Phillip Hughes’ final innings in the wake of his tragic death.

Hughes, who would have been 26 yesterday, passed away on Thursday, two days after being hit in the neck by a ball in a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. Batting for South Australia, the 26-cap Test international was on 63 when the accident happened, with the scorecard saying he had retired hurt.

Social media trends soon turned to declaring Hughes as being “63 not out forever” and Cricket Australia has now moved to reflect that in its records. “It might seem like a little thing, but it’s an important distinction,” said Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland. “Phillip will forever remain 63 not out.”

Sutherland’s gesture came in the wake of Australia captain Michael Clarke paying a personal and heartfelt tribute to his “little brother” Hughes on what would have been his birthday. Close friend Clarke read out a statement on behalf of Hughes’ family shortly after his death was made known while he made an emotional address to the media in Sydney on Saturday as a representative of the Australia team.

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And on Sunday, he said in a moving column in the Australian Daily Telegraph: “As I stood in the centre of the SCG on Thursday night, at the spot where my little brother played his last shot, I struggled to comprehend how this tragedy could happen to one of life’s true characters and gentlemen. His cricketing achievements – of which there were many – really play second fiddle to the human qualities that he exhibited.

“Loyal to a fault, eternally optimistic, kind-hearted, wicked sense of humour, a childlike verve for life…I really could go on and on. I don’t have a blood brother, but I am very proud to have called Phillip my brother. I am a better man for having known him.”

Clarke added that Hughes, who also played 25 one-day internationals for Australia, could have gone on to become one of the greats of the national team. “At only 25 years of age he had 26 centuries to his name in first-class cricket, and I have no doubt he would have made it 27 last Tuesday. What an amazing talent,” he said. “I said a couple of months ago that I had no doubt Phillip would have gone on to play 100 Tests, such was his 
determination and skill.”

Clarke later said on Twitter: “Happy bday bro. Will love you forever. It has been the hardest few days of my life. You will stand with me every time I walk out on to that ground.”

Several Australian players plus the national team coach Darren Lehmann also used the social networking site to commemorate Hughes’ birthday

Reports from Australia, meanwhile, suggest a number of the touring India squad – including captain Virat Kohli, team manager Ravi Shastri and coach Duncan Fletcher – have made plans to attend Hughes’ funeral in Macksville on Wednesday.

It appears unlikely England captain Alastair Cook will leave his team’s tour of Sri Lanka to attend the funeral. It is thought England – who suffered an eight-wicket trouncing by the Sri Lankans on Saturday, their seventh ODI defeat in their last eight matches – will instead be formally represented at Hughes’ state memorial service on a date yet to be announced.

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