Sydney: On Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes' first death anniversary, here's a tribute to the left-handed batsman who passed away too soon after being felled by a bouncer at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
A year ago, Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes was battling to regain his place on the national Test side when he was felled by a bouncer at the Sydney Cricket Ground. His mother and sister were in the stands watching.
Two days later on Thursday, the 25-year-old died from his injuries in a Sydney hospital, surrounded by family and friends. He was due to celebrate his 26th birthday on Sunday.
View Photos: Aus cricketers mourn Philip Hughes' death
Phil Hughes. Pic/ AFP
The popular young batsman played 26 Tests for his country but never secured a regular place in the national team despite some 9,000 first-class runs. Hughes made his Test debut in South Africa in 2009 as a 20-year-old, where he top scored for Australia in the second innings at Johannesburg with 75 runs.
The left-hander followed up in the second Test at Durban with centuries in both innings, amassing some 275 runs at the crease. That made Hughes the youngest batsman to score twin centuries in a Test and his success sparked comparisons to Australian batting great Don Bradman. But the runs did not always come as easily later on as bowlers probed his unorthodox technique, and Hughes never cemented his place in the Test team.
He last played at Test level in July 2013 at Lord's where he scored a total of two runs in two innings. Hughes' strong form for Australia A and South Australia earlier this year saw him included in the Test squad to face Pakistan although he wasn't required to play, and he admitted it had been hard being in and out of the Test side.
"But I understand that when I was in there, I wasn't consistent enough. Going forward it's about consistency and looking to score as many runs as possible," he said in September. "That is something that I have been working on and I'm probably doing it better over the last 12 months than the previous years."
View Photos: Gone too soon: Cricketers who died at a young age
- 'Happy' to wait -
Hughes conceded that he was up against tough competition, but stressed his patient determination. "I know the guys in front of me and how well the Test side is going -- just to be that spare batter and around the squad, that has always been my plan over the last 12 months," Hughes said.
"If a spot comes up I feel very ready to take it... but I'm happy to bide my time." Hughes, like Bradman, grew up in rural Australia. He was the son of a banana farmer from Macksville in northern New South Wales, while Bradman hailed from Bowral in the Southern Highlands.
Hughes debuted for the state in November 2007 at 18 -- the youngest NSW debutant since current Australian captain Michael Clarke -- and played with the team for five seasons before moving to South Australia.
In his 26 Tests, Hughes scored 1,535 runs and had a fairly low batting average of 32.65. He played 25 one-day internationals with an average of 35.91.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott echoed the thoughts of the nation when he said in a statement Thursday that Hughes was "loved, admired and respected by his teammates and by legions of cricket fans".
"What happened has touched millions of Australians," Abbott said. "Phillip Hughes was a young man living out his dreams. His death is a very sad day for cricket and a heartbreaking day for his family." In NSW, flags on all state government buildings will fly at half-mast on Friday.