Phillip Joel Hughes

30 Nov 1988
27 Nov 2014
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pPhillip Joel Hughes (30 November 1988 – 27 November 2014) was an Australian Test and One-Day International (ODI) cricketer who played domestic cricket for South Australia and Worcestershire. He was a left-handed opening batsman who played for two seasons with New South Wales before making his Test debut in 2009 at the age of 20.

During the 2009 Ashes series in England, he was dropped from the team due to perceived weakness against the short ball, and replaced by Shane Watson.[3] He was selected to play against Pakistan in January 2010, and against New Zealand in March 2010, when he made 86 not out in a second-innings run-chase.

In the 2010/11 Ashes series, Hughes was initially omitted from a 17-man Test squad but was selected in the third Test in Perth following an injury to Simon Katich. Hughes performed relatively poorly in the series but was retained for Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka in August/September 2011 following some good end of season form in 2010/11 for New South Wales. Hughes scored 126 in the third and final Test of the series against Sri Lanka and scored 88 in the subsequent Australian tour of South Africa. However, in the New Zealand Tour of Australia in 2011–12, Hughes was caught Guptill, bowled Martin four successive times and he was dropped in favour of Ed Cowan.

After his axing, Hughes opted to skip the Big Bash League to work on his technique. Hughes signed a contract with Worcestershire and enjoyed a fruitful season primarily at No.3 in the order averaging 35 in first class cricket, 100 in T20 cricket, and 83 in ODI cricket.[9] Hughes backed up his strong season for Worcestershire with fine form for South Australia after moving states from New South Wales. John Inverarity, then chairman of the national selection panel of cricket Australia, noted that Hughes was considered an important part of Australia’s future.

Hughes was rewarded for good form in 2012 by being selected, first in Australia’s Test squad for the Sri Lanka tour of Australia in 2012–13, then in the Australian ODI squad for the first two ODI’s in the same tour. On 11 January 2013, Hughes became the first Australian batsman in the history of ODI cricket to score a century on debut, a feat which he achieved against Sri Lanka in Melbourne. Hughes was also the youngest cricketer ever to score back-to-back centuries in a test match, a feat which he achieved in Durban, 2009 against South Africa.

On 25 November 2014, Hughes was knocked unconscious by a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG). He was taken to St Vincent’s Hospital where he underwent surgery, was placed into an induced coma and was in intensive care in a critical condition. He died on 27 November 2014, after failing to regain conciousness.

Hughes was born in Macksville, a small town on the north coast of New South Wales, to parents Greg and Virginia. The son of a banana farmer and an Italian mother, Hughes was also a talented rugby league player who once played alongside Australian rugby league international Greg Inglis. He played his junior cricket for Macksville R.S.L Cricket Club, where he excelled so quickly that he was playing A-Grade at the age of 12. At the age of 17, Hughes moved from Macksville to Sydney to play for Western Suburbs District Cricket Club in Sydney Grade Cricket while he attended Homebush Boys High. He scored 141* on his grade debut and enjoyed a solid 2006–07 season scoring 752 runs at an average of 35.81 with a highest score of 142*. He represented Australia at the Under-19s World Cup in 2007. He was coached at Triforce Sports Cricket Centre in Mortlake.

After scoring runs prolifically for New South Wales youth teams and Western Suburbs in Grade Cricket, Hughes was handed a rookie contract by New South Wales for the 2007–08 season.After scores of 51 and 137 for the New South Wales Second XI against Victoria’s Second XI,Hughes was rewarded with a call up by Blues selectors to make his first-class debut. He played his first senior game against Tasmania on 20 November 2007 at the Sydney Cricket Ground. At 18 years and 355 days, Hughes was the youngest New South Wales debutant since Michael Clarke in 1999. In a comfortable victory for New South Wales, Hughes opened the batting and got his career off to a solid start, scoring a fluent 51 and taking 2 catches.

Hughes had an outstanding debut season for New South Wales, playing 7 matches and scoring 559 runs at an average of 62.11 with 1 century and 6 fifties. The highlight of Hughes’ excellent season came in New South Wales’ Pura Cup final victory over Victoria. He scored 116 off 175 balls in the Blues’ second innings to help put his team in a commanding position. At 19 years of age, this innings made him the youngest ever player to score a century in a Pura Cup final. Hughes was rewarded for his achievements by winning the New South Wales Rising Star Award and earning an upgrade to a full state contract for the 2008–09 season.

He was signed by Middlesex on a short-term contract, as cover for Murali Kartik for the beginning of the 2009 English cricket season. He was available for first six weeks of the season, and played in three County Championship matches, all eight of Middlesex’s Friends Provident Trophy group matches and the first few matches in the Panthers’ defence of the Twenty20 Cup. In most other years, a contract for the opening six weeks of the season would involve playing 4–6 Championship matches, some but not all FPT matches and no Twenty20, but the scheduling for 2009 had to accommodate ICC World Twenty20 and the eventually-cancelled Stanford Super Series. It has been noted that despite Hughes holding an Italian passport by virtue of his Italian mother, Middlesex resisted signing Hughes up as a Kolpak player and instead signed him as a foreign player.He enjoyed strong success in England, scoring 574 runs in his three first-class matches, including three hundreds, at an average of 143.50. Of his time at Middlesex, Hughes commented:

I thoroughly enjoyed it and the preparation has been great. The big thing that came out of it was that I played at three Test grounds I’m going to be playing on and got to experience them before this big series coming up. Lord’s was my home ground there for Middlesex and I played at The Oval as well and Edgbaston. It couldn’t have really worked out any better. The big thing was just going over there to experience the whole different culture really, the weather, the wickets and the bowlers as well.”

Hughes hit back-to-back hundreds at the end of the 2010/11 season to earn the praise of Australian chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch. In his last two first class matches for NSW in the 2010/11 season he scored 54, 115, 138 and 93. Australia chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch stated “I was thrilled for Phil, I think he turned the corner the last game. I spent a bit of time with him before the last Shield game and he seemed to be in a really good place. Having had a tough season, to emerge like he has is a credit to him.”

Less than a week after his debut in first-class cricket, on 28 November 2007, Hughes made his List A debut against Victoria at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. While he was not originally scheduled to play the match, sickness to Australian opening batsman Phil Jaques handed him the spot. Just as he did in his first-class debut, Hughes passed 50 but was eventually dismissed for 68, top scoring for New South Wales in a “controlled” display. After New South Wales’ wicket-keeper Brad Haddin was struck in the head by a top edge, Hughes took on the ‘keeping duties for nine overs. On 17 May 2009, Hughes made his first limited overs century, scoring 119 for Middlesex against Warwickshire. On 29 July 2014, Hughes made a double century (202 not out from 151 balls) in a match with South Africa A in Darwin.

During a Sheffield Shield match between South Australia and New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground on 25 November 2014, while batting on 63 not out, Hughes was struck in the neck by a bouncer from New South Wales bowler Sean Abbott after mistiming his shot. Hughes was wearing a helmet. He collapsed before receiving mouth to mouth resuscitation and was subsequently taken to hospital. The match was immediately abandoned, and early the next day Cricket Australia announced that the other two Shield games that were being played elsewhere in Australia would also be abandoned, stating “Given how players across the country are feeling right now, it’s just not the day to be playing cricket”.

Hughes died two days later from his injuries, aged 25.

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