GRIEVING players and staff at Worcestershire CCC have paid heartfelt tributes to Phil Hughes, the Australian batsman who has died at the age of 25.
The left hander who became a popular figure at New Road after a season with the county in 2012 passed away on Thursday (November 27) after being hit on the head by a delivery at the Sydney Cricket Ground two days ago.
Australia team doctor Peter Brukner said Hughes never regained consciousness and died in hospital in Sydney.
Worcestershire CCC Director of Cricket Steve Rhodes said the club’s players, coaches and supporters were ‘shocked and saddened’ by Hughes’s tragic death.
“The players, coaches and supporters of Worcestershire CCC are both shocked and saddened to lose such a talented cricketer and tremendous friend at such a tender age,” he said.
“Phil was popular with everyone here at New Road and our thoughts go out to his family in this difficult time.
“His life has been taken away playing a game he loved on a cricket ground he loved in his home state of NSW.
“He will long be remembered for his run making ability but in the dressing rooms where he padded up we all will remember the quiet team man sat in the corner with a cheeky smile who was ‘Hughsie’.
“The thing about Hughesie is you forget he was a really young bloke, he was 23 when he came to us as well and in some ways an inmature dressing room – in terms of their ages – were excited by such a gifted test cricketer coming to join us.
“They weren’t sure how he was going to be – and when he came he was very much a down to earth country boy who just wanted to get on and play cricket. He went down so well with the team and everyone.
“There was no ‘I’m a Test cricketer’ about him. He was just a colleague in the team.”
“I think what he enjoyed about Worcestershire was the fact the team were so close and the dressing room was so good and socially were altogether and live quite close together which suited him fine.
“The place itself was not a big city which suited him, he preferred the country life, and the overall ambience and nature of Worcestershire is what appealed to him.
“He was very well liked because he didn’t have a bad word to say about anyone and had a cheeky sort of personality, very happy and very smiley and was a real popular member of the side.”
Hughes admitted his spell at New Road was key to him regaining his Test spot for the 2013 Ashes.
“We just wanted to give him a platform to try and do that and we did. But the main work was done by Phil. We gave him an opportunity to get back in there and play and he managed to do it.
“A wonderful a player but more importantly a real sort of humble and wonderful person. He was popular with everyone. Moeen and him got on with him really well, Coxy (Ben Cox) got on really well with him but you couldn’t fail to get on with him.
“He was a good role model, a good professional and in many ways that easy going country boy, farming type who sat in a corner and got on with his job which was scoring runs. He was well liked, the lads loved him, loved his company.”
Worcestershire coaches and players have also been quick via social networking to express their sadness at Hughes’ death.
Assistant coach-bowling coach and fellow Australian Matt Mason wrote: “Our club has lost another great player and true friend. You will always be remembered as a Worcestershire lad by us all. RIP mate.”
Skipper and opening batsman Daryl Mitchell wrote: “Absolutely gutted. Pleasure to play with, honoured to call him a team-mate.”
Paceman Jack Shantry wrote: “Hasn’t sunk in, won’t for a while. Was a pleasure to have played with and known Phil. Thoughts with his family.”
All-rounder Joe Leach wrote: “Thoughts obviously with family. Hopefully they can take some comfort in the amount of love being shown Phil.”
Hughes had CPR and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation before being taken to hospital and placed in an induced coma.
In a statement, Brukner said: “It is my sad duty to inform you that a short time ago Phillip Hughes passed away. He never regained consciousness following his injury on Tuesday.
“He was not in pain before he passed and was surrounded by his family and close friends.
“As a cricket community we mourn his loss and extend our deepest sympathies to Phillip’s family and friends at this incredibly sad time.
“Cricket Australia kindly asks that the privacy of the Hughes family, players and staff be respected.”