Sydney: As the 2000-strong crowd left the iconic Ladies and Members stand at the Sydney Cricket Ground (scg) after watching the Phillip Hughes funeral service on the giant screen, the bright sunny sky suddenly turned grey and it started to rain. Around the same time, 500kms away from Sydney, Hughes was put to rest in peace in his hometown of Macksville.
Cricket lovers watch the funeral proceedings of Phillip Hughes on the giant screen at Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday. Pics/AFP, Getty Images
"Look, it's raining, or should we say even the heavens are weeping. Even the almighty is shedding some tears and why shouldn't there be any. We have all cried, so now the final farewell is from him," said an emotional Barbara Hart to her 10-year-old grandson Max.
Barbara and Max along with over 500 people had started lining outside the stadium from noon, prompting the SCG Trust to open the gates half an hour early for the viewing.
As the gates opened, the visitors were overwhelmed by the 63 newly crafted bats that stretched from the Ladies Stand all the way to the Randwick end of the ground, almost the width of the SCG. Starting from the first bat all the way to the 63rd, it showed in progression how Hughes had progressed to become a Test cricketer. In the middle, there were messages from current cricketers, commentators, friends, family and even the Queen.
Sixty three bats hand on rods as a tribute to Phillip Hughes
"It is very touching to read some of the messages. The 63 bats summed up Hughes' life and the messages are written by some of the greatest cricketers like Shane Warne," said Greg Jones, a financial officer who had walked to the SCG in 34-degree heat from his office in Surry Hills at lunchtime.
'Why so soon?'
Along with the bats, in the middle of the SCG, a picket fence had been set up with Hughes' photo alongwith several bats and caps. As people passed this display, they all seemed to be overwhelmed. Some looked heavenwards, almost to say "why so soon?"
One of the kids at the venue was curious to know where Hughes had been struck down. His friend replied, "the pitch with the stumps and the cap on top." At that very moment, the ground staff stated stoically, "that pitch gents will not be used again this summer, in respect to Phillip Hughes."