Eternal 63* – Phillip Hughes

This isn’t the piece I wanted to write. I had another.

I wanted to tell you it was in 2007 when I saw this kid hopping, buzing and flying around the crease and he first took my eye.

I wanted to say he looked like a pixie taking on giants hurling missiles at him.

I wanted to show you a piece I wrote excitedly as I flew out to South Africa this year, convinced that Hughes would be back in the team.

I wanted you to know how disappointed I was that he never did play in that series.

I wanted you hear all the arguments I had with other writers about him and his weakness against the short ball, the wide ball, the full ball, or whatever it was that day.

I wanted you to know when I was wrong, and doubted he could overcome all the setbacks.

I wanted one day for him to make enough runs that no one ever inferred he had a problem with the short ball again. That he changed his personal narrative.

I wanted to help dispel that myth in the mean time.

I wanted him to laugh at all of us who had laughed at ‘Caught Guptil, Bowled Martin’ as he went around the world making hundreds.

I wanted him to go back to Shield cricket, learn his craft, and come back and be the legend he was supposed to be.

I wanted him to be left alone, not be hyped up, and for him to never be compared to a guy who retired in 1948.

I wanted him to keep making runs against Dale Steyn, to prove to everyone that he wasn’t a First Class bully.

I wanted him to play a hundred Tests, score triple centuries and do that thing he does with his nose when the camera was in close up.

I wanted to know what happened, so I watched the footage. Now I need to know that one day the images I’ve seen will leave my head.

I wanted him to know how brave I thought he was for calling out racism on the field.

I wanted to see him do more replacement wicketkeeping with that massive smile on his face.

I wanted him to actually play in all five Ashes Tests in one series.

I wanted the selectors to trust him the way I now did.

I wanted him to find his position in the line up, and stay there for a cricketing lifetime.

I wanted him to treat the offside like it was his personal property.

I wanted him to back away and carve, I wanted him to slap spinners and I wanted him to cut like the ball like it deserved it.

I wanted him to bat.

I wanted his 63* to be 100*. I know it means nothing, I really do. But this is all so unfinished. A 63* not out is a start, not and end. It isn’t the end of anything. It’s on the way to something bigger. Not an abyss. He had so far to go, in life and cricket, and a pointless cricket milestone might mean nothing in 50 years, but it meant something to him, and too much of this has ended too early. I want the scorers to change it. I want them to give him those 37 runs. I want someone to tell him that we all miss him already. And that we’ll all try look after the bowler. That we’ll look into new helmet designs. That we’ll not treat young players so haphazardly. That as long as cricket is known, so should the name of Phil Hughes. Phillip.

I wanted more than anything for Phillip Joel Hughes to make it. I don’t know why. I haven’t met him. But I just wanted this kid with the handmade technique and the courage to face balls he couldn’t handle to be an Australian legend.

I wanted to write something other than this, I wanted to honour him, I wanted to show how much notice I had been taking of him, how much I was on his side. How I felt it was unfair when he wasn’t selected when he should have been, how it was stupid that he always ended up in our out by the third Ashes Test, that I remember being so upset when Pepler Sandri got him out in a tour match, and that I should never have given up on him.

On the 3rd of December 2007 I saw a pixie stand up to giants. Now we have the unfinished symphony of Philip Hughes. Just a hole in the Australian batting card that doesn’t feel right now like it can ever be filled.

We all just want this piece in the present tense. We want him back at the crease, where he belonged. Not 25 out, but 63 not out. For eternity.

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23 thoughts on “Eternal 63* – Phillip Hughes

  1. Sushant says:

    Emotional & good one Jarrod

  2. TVC says:

    Amen brother

  3. Mike says:

    Nice touch … RIP Little Man …

  4. psohal says:

    Very emotional moment for whole cricketing family. RIP Phil.

  5. Dave Liverman says:

    Thank you for this piece; lots of good writing today, this is the first one that really reflected the sadness I feel today

  6. Chris says:

    Lovely piece Jarrod. Just so sad that you had to write this, and not what you wanted to write. And a thought please everyone for Sean Abbott.

    RIP Phil

  7. Abdul says:

    Beautiful.. RIP Phil

  8. […] Jarrod Kimber’s reaction […]

  9. jai says:

    lovely stuff. love and strength to all those mourning his passing.

    question, if i can ask one here, what does the “calling out racism on the field” line refer to?

  10. Jawad Ashraf says:

    Hi Jarrod,
    I didn’t know it had it in you to write something like this. It’s been a very horrible day since the news broke. I was in my office and surfing Cricinfo and saw all the aussie cricketers consoling each other and mind you that was before the website broke the news. I was telling an intern of mine that guy’s critical and I have a feeling he might not make it. I was dreadfully hoping that he must make it. I don’t know but I really like Phil. I mean what’s there not to like about the guy? Then in the middle kissin this talk, the news broke. I was gutted and couldn’t believe myself. Anyways, it was a slow day at the office, day spent surfing news agencies’ websites, CA’s, Cricinfo, Facebook, Twitter. Read almost all the articles. From Dan Bretting to Ian Chappel. Hell I even checked this blog if you had written anything about him previously et al. Cursing you for nothing on him. Now I just read this and my patience gave in. I really feel like I’ve lost a brother. He was someone you could absolutely relate to. Any time. Life is unfair and the world is unfair place. I saw that fluke by Ashton Agar when he was there with him. He played absolutely the best innings of his career. Yet nobody remember it. That’s not the point. He never complained. He just got on with it. You read the stories about how humble he was. Yet guy gives you an air of selflessness. I saw Ponting cheering for his maiden ton and just by the look of it tells you he immediately commanded the respect. You can’t just have Ponting’s respect in your second test. All in all. The more you think of him, the more you find yourself in love the person he was.
    RIP my brother.
    We love you.

  11. Priyam says:

    Reblogged this on The Blank Page and commented:
    The last time a cricket death affected me so much was when Peter Roebuck had committed suicide. So much has come out after the news of Phillip Hughes’ death today that anything I would say would sound redundant and repetitive.

    I just wanted to say how much I wanted this guy to do well. As a child we (my brother and I) had an EA Sports Cricket 2005 game on PC that we borrowed from our cousin Rajiv in Bongaigaon. We spent countless hours trying to win the same tournament again and again. We had this one particular player named Phil Jaques who I loved putting into the Australian team at no. 3 instead of Ricky Ponting because he was left-handed batsman (I bat left-handed too and my favorite batsman have always been left-handed; Andy Flower, Andy Blignaut, Adam Gilchrist, Sourav Ganguly, Yuvraj Singh. I always copied their stance and backlift when we played in our backyard). Except, Phil Jaques was never picked for the actual Aussie cricket team. So I loved him (and I still think of him as ‘my’ player; i.e., the player I backed). Phil Jaques retired some seasons ago.

    Then I started following Phil Hughes. He seemed like the ideal replacement. And then he became ‘my’ player. The one I backed when he was dropped from the team. A lefty who kept playing dangerously across the line more than anyone else. Not like Chanderpaul or Michael Yardy. This guy had class and grace. I knew he was going to be back. Just like Shaun Marsh, another lefty I love watching. The straight back lift is stiff like a ballerina’s. It looks painful. I know Shaun Marsh will always be ‘my’ player.

    Sometimes you root for these cricketers even though you know you will never them or know them. Their achievements make you happy. Their bad days bog you down. Today, I did not want Phil Hughes to score well or play across the line when an off-spinner bowls around the wicket. Today I just wanted him to survive the day.

    I understand Jarrod Kimber’s feelings. He was ‘my’ player too.

  12. […] understand Jarrod Kimber’s feelings completely. He was ‘my’ player […]

  13. Ninad says:

    Jarrod, you are blessed .. May you keep writting, the ones that you want to write and ones like this that you don’t..I loved you before but this is much more than that ..RIP Phil..

  14. Yvette says:

    Thank you. A good read at a very sad time. It’s all so hard to take in. RIP Phillip.

  15. Kunal Tolani says:

    Just. RIP Phil.

  16. Hugh says:

    Well done, Jarrod. Not something anybody wanted to write. Not something anybody should’ve had to write. Vale indeed.

  17. Susan says:

    Thank you for writing this. He was a joy to watch and you’re right – we all miss him already. There are never adequate words to express sorrow and loss but this is a beautiful piece you wrote. Absolutely devastated here in Canada and wishing I was back home.

  18. […] things written about this tragedy this week from across the cricketing community. Here, and here are just two of them. I find it very hard to find anything to say, words just feels inadequate. So, […]

  19. Had a lunch with Neil Harvey the other week, a great man, a legend. Played for Australia before he owned a bat,pads or gloves. When I listened to him, I thought of the generation gap,the bag of bats each player posesses. I tried to think of someone who carried that spirit. Out of the box I knew. Old school.

  20. jogesh99 says:

    Very Sad.
    I really liked him, among the few Aussies cricketers I could like.

    But:
    Lets move on. Let the cricket begin. If certain Australian players need time off, pick another team. But play.

    If he had died in a car accident or something equally futile and meaningless, I doubt any of this would have happened. Would his death have been less worthy then?

    Collective outpourings never ring true.

    And you think BCCI really cares?

    When Raman Lamba died, I don’t recall any of this.

  21. yenjvoy says:

    Maybe I sound contrarian here, but I am not deliberately being one. I understand the collective outpuring of grief. I even understand Michael Clarke’s obviously personal and heartfelt sorrow. It is this wallowing in grief for weeks on end that is very un-Australian to me.

    This is not the first time a Cricketer died on the pitch. Nor the last time surely. Raman Lamba died, and there is a whole generation of Indian cricketers, as well as another of Bangladeshi cricketers to whom he was brother, mentor and friend. He is sorely missed even today, but I have not seen anything like this before. Nari Contractor got his head caved in by Charlie Griffith. He was the fucking captain!! Did India cancel even a day’s worth of cricket? West Indian cricketers gave blood to save his life, and then went back to play because there was a test series on.

    This cancelling of test matches, reshuffling of an international series; this is not the Alan Border Australia I grew up with. What is this nonsense about the Adelaide test being optional for Australian players. After the pussification of America, I felt good that at least Australia was around as the last proud bastion of testosterone, but looks like those days are over and a new age has set in. I never thought I’d see a captain of Australia cry. Perhaps its just Pup, who has always been a little metro. Punter would never have cried. He would have looked like a steamroller just ran over his nuts, but he would not have cried. Mark Taylor would never have cried. Steve Waugh, I doubt also. Border? Perish the thought. What happened to you Australia?

  22. yenjvoy says:

    Wow j99, dude I thought I was obnoxious. I think compared to you, JRod is likely to propose marriage to me or at least a one night stand soon.

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