Sydney: Australian cricket captain Michael Clarke wrote a moving birthday tribute to Phillip Hughes yesterday, calling him the brother he never had as players continued to grieve over his death.
Hughes, who would have celebrated his 26th birthday yesterday, died on Thursday two days after he was knocked unconscious by a bouncer while batting in a domestic match at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Michael Clarke (left) with Phillip Hughes in 2009. Pic/Getty Images
Clarke said he “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,” Clarke wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.
“Loyal to a fault, eternally optimistic, kind-hearted, wicked sense of humour, a child-like verve for life... I really could go on and on.”
Clarke wrote of how he was instantly drawn to Hughes when the talented cricketer, then 17, moved to Sydney from his hometown of Macksville to play for his club Western Suburbs. “I don’t think in 12 years of playing cricket at the top level I have ever come across a more loyal or generous-hearted teammate,” Clarke wrote.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Clarke has offered his full support to Sean Abbott. “I would like to say some words about Abbott. This is a tremendous young man with a bright future whose life has changed forever by this accident. And that’s what it is — a freak accident,” Clarke said.
‘I’m there for Abbott’
“No-one — not one single person — blames him in any way for what has happened.
“Sean, when you feel like getting back on the horse mate, I promise you that I will be the first to strap on the pads and go stand up the end of the net to hit them back at you,” Clarke was quoted as saying in Herald Sun.