“Do you know what my favourite part of the game is? The opportunity to play” – Mike Singletary
Philip Joel Hughes was given an opportunity to play, and play he did! He played the life affirming sport that he not merely loved but lived. He played, insouciant to the inherent perils, inevitable praises and the intimidating pitfalls. On the 27th of November 2014 Phil Hughes made an untimely and entirely unexpected transition – a heart wrenching transition that shocked and ravaged the very soul of this precious game. A transition that mercilessly led to this bristling talent being referred to in a past tense just when a beautiful future beckoned.
But still such time he was felled by that ominous, yet innocuous looking bouncer, the young lad played. Unorthodox in style and unconstrained in stroke making, he enthralled and enlivened friend and foe alike. The fact that he was not devoid of limitations was nullified by the fact that he played within and despite any obvious and apparent flaws. For Phil Hughes knew that he played, therefore he was there. The cold contrivance of fate and an attempted forceful stroke that was a fraction of a second late has ensured that Hughes is lost forever to the cricketing world. This was a stroke which this gifted cricketer would have essayed a million times in the ordinary course of tenure at the crease. However when he attempted the hook against Sean Abbot, after having made a solid 63, destiny had other ideas. It was a score that was reserved for posterity, permanence and preservation. Now we all realize that Philip Hughes was meant to be 63 Not Out until perpetuity, not a run more and not a run less. It is only that we will never accept the occurrence. While the inescapability of mortality is purely acceptable, in this particular instance it is the isolated manner that causes intolerable grief and uncontrolled anger.
Not since the immortal Archie Jackson was taken away in his pristine prime, has the death of a young cricketer evoked such passionate and poignant feelings (notwithstanding the absolute tragedy befalling India’s prodigious youth cricket Dhruv Pandove). Today tributes the lengths of the Nile are flowing in from all corners of the world. While some are melodramatic, others are beautifully minimalist. A most evocative one being the beautifully austere scoreboard at the Adelaide Oval displaying just the name of Philip Hughes. But they all are united in their purpose and intent – celebrating the short albeit memorable career of a cricketer, a sportsman, a colleague and a son.
Sean Anthony Abbot was also given an opportunity to play, and play he did as well! By a wretched quirk of circumstance, he has also delivered the ominous, yet innocuous looking bouncer that felled his friend and countryman. But the greatest tribute that Sean Abbot can pay to Philip Hughes would be to continue to play – to play the game that has made him what he is and to play the game that will define what he will be. Sean Abbot faces the sternest test of his character, mettle and nerves. We all hope and pray that this promising fast bowler will face the winds of change head on and succeed by resorting to the method which was the hall mark of his departed friend – PLAY ON!
Philip Joel Hughes – THANK YOU & REST IN PEACE!