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Wednesday, December 3, 2014, Agrahayan 19, 1421, Safar 9, 1436 Hijr

Thousands mourn Australian cricketer Hughes at funeral
Observer Online Desk
Published : Wednesday, 3 December, 2014,  Time : 6:39 PM,  View Count : 23
Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke broke down in tears as he paid tribute to friend and team-mate Phillip Hughes at the batsman's funeral.

Hughes, 25, died last week after being hit by a ball during a match in Sydney.

His death stunned Australia and the funeral was broadcast live to millions of people on national television and on big screens in major cities.

Around 5,000 people attended the service in Hughes's home town of Macksville, New South Wales.

The service was also shown at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where Hughes suffered the injury during a state match on Tuesday, 25 November. He died two days later.

During the 80-minute service, Clarke said: "Phillip's spirit, which is now part of our game forever, will act as a custodian of the sport we all love.

"We must listen to it. We must cherish it. We must learn from it. We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on.

"I don't know about you, but I keep looking for him… his spirit is still with me and I hope it never leaves," he said.

"From the little girl in Karachi holding a candlelight tribute to masters of the game like [Sachin] Tendulkar, [Shane] Warne and [Brian] Lara showing their grief to the world, the spirit of cricket binds us all together…."

"So rest in peace my little brother. I will see you out in the middle."

Around 1,000 people attended the funeral at Macksville High School, which Hughes attended, as thousands more watched on screens in the baking heat outside.

Joining the parents of Hughes, Greg and Virginia, and his siblings, Jason and Megan, were Clarke and Sean Abbott, the bowler whose delivery caused the fatal injury to Hughes.

Former Australia internationals Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Steve Waugh and Justin Langer were also among the mourners.

They were joined by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and cricketing legends from around the world, including former New Zealand all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee and West Indies batsman Brian Lara.

Hughes, who would have been 26 on 30 November, was in line for a possible recall to the Australia Test side for the forthcoming series against India - which was rescheduled following his death.

The left-handed batsman, who also played for English counties Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire, had already played 26 Tests for his country, after making his Test debut at the age of 20 against South Africa in 2009.

The number 63--the runs he had scored when he was fatally injured - has become inextricably linked with Hughes, as has the social media campaign that urged people to remember the batsman by placing cricket bats outside homes, workplaces and at sports grounds.

Macksville, with a population of just 2,500, lies on Australia's east coast in the state of New South Wales.

Father Michael Alcock told mourners: "We gather to celebrate his 26 years of life. That is what we are doing here this afternoon.

"To those both near and far whom his life has touched, we pray that today we will feel some consolation as we celebrate his life."

Among those to send their condolence messages was West Indies great Sir Viv Richards, who tweeted: "My heart goes out to the family, friends & the people of Macksville honouring their favourite son Phillip today. Viv."


Editor : Iqbal Sobhan Chowdhury
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