A Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and Queensland was being played at the iconic Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) exactly a year ago. Phillip Hughes was batting on 63 and then Sean Abbott surprised the Queenslander with a deadly bouncer, which struck the former on the head and he lost consciousness immediately.
The players hurried towards Hughes and called the medics but he never gained consciousness after that. Hughes bid good bye to life and the cricketing world, leaving all and sundry in a state of shock. Hughes remained not out at 63 even after he left us in disarray!
At that time of the year, Team India were touring Australia and both the teams were gearing up for the first Test match. The preparations took the back seat as the players from both the sides could not believe what they heard. Hughes was trying to co-operate with the technology and the doctors who gave everything to save the Aussie batsman but he breathed his last on 27 November, 2014.
Abbott broke into tears and held himself responsible for the tragic demise of Hughes. No one could really blame Abbott for the deadly bouncer directed towards Hughes. He was just trying to unsettle the batsman probably on a pitch that had a lot of bounce in it. Hughes could not get away from the line of the ball and it struck behind his head.
The Aussies were shattered just ahead of the first Test match against India. The Indian players too could not believe their ears.
The funeral happened where the players from both the sides were present. Friends, family, cricketers, everybody paid tribute to Hughes. As a sign of respect, cricketers around the globe left their bat outside with a cap on its handle. The world paid tribute to the Aussie who remained not out even on his death bed.
The-then Australia skipper Michael Clarke broke into tears while he addressed the media at the hospital announcing that the world cannot see Phillip Hughes bat ever again. The eulogy by the captain followed at the funeral and none can forget that emotional speech either.
"I stood there at the wicket, I knelt down and touched the grass, I swear he was with me; picking me up off my feet to check if I was okay. Telling me we just needed to dig in and get through to tea," Clarke had said and it made us weep.
Let us look back at Michael Clarke said in his eulogy about Phillip Hughes in the latter's funeral:
The first death anniversary of Phillip Hughes coincides with the historic day-night Test match between Australia and New Zealand at the Adelaide Oval. The players from both the teams will be wearing a black arm band as they will be remembering Hughes on his first death anniversary. The cricketers will pay tribute to the deceased Queenslander sharp at 4:08 pm on Day 1 of the third Test match on Friday. A package will be shown at the giant screen at the Adelaide Oval referring to Hughes' Test cap number.
Batsmen might go through a feeling of insecurity when they will be playing this Test match with the pink ball. The ball will surely do a little more than the usual 'Kookabura Cherry' under the flood lights in the evening. It will be difficult for the players to get their minds off the tragic incident that happened a year ago but the game must go on!
It has been one year since the freak accident happened and nothing really changed in the game apart from the evolution of Test cricket – The much-awaited day-night Test match and the pink ball! The world mourned then and outpour of grief is expected on Friday as well when the players will pay tribute to the Phillip Hughes on the eve of his death anniversary during the Day 1 of the first ever day-night Test match at The Adelaide Oval.
The family of Phillip Hughes has requested the world and especially Cricket Australia to make it a low-key affair as it is hard for the members at home. Australia skipper Steven Smith has agreed to it and reiterated the fact that it will be difficult for them as well as Hughes is still in their memories.
"Obviously it's a tough time for his family and his friends and we respect that ... hopefully we can have a good week for Phillip. A year on we still have Hughesy at the back of our minds every time we walk out onto the field. We're going to be doing our best to play with a smile on our face and hopefully play well for Hughesy," Smith said on the eve of the third Test match against New Zealand.
It was unreal and unbelievable. Just like Clarke, we too wept at the same time. On this day, we remember the Aussie hero who will remain in our hearts forever. But honestly, reminiscing a year of 63-not-out will be a tough task!
Here's the video of the deadly ball that took Hughes away from us: