Thu | Jan 17, 2019

Hughes laid to rest in hometown

Published:Thursday | December 4, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Former Australian cricketer Shane Warne (left) and West Indies cricketer Brian Lara arrive for the funeral of Australian cricketer Phil Hughes in Macksville, Australia, yesterday. Hughes, 25, died November 27, two days after he was hit in the head during a domestic cricket match. - AP

MACKSVILLE, Australia (AP):

The funeral for cricketer Phillip Hughes turned into a celebration of his life yesterday despite the grief and sorrow still evident from his death.

Australia captain Michael Clarke and the rest of the Test squad were joined by former and current players from around the world, and friends and relatives from Hughes' hometown of 2,500 people on the northern coast of New South Wales state, 575 kilometres (350 miles north of Sydney).

Clarke was a pallbearer and spoke at the funeral service held at the Macksville Recreation Centre and which opened to the song Forever Young by Youth Group.

The service closed with Elton John's Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me, the same song the famous entertainer and avid cricket fan performed at a concert last weekend in Germany in tribute to Hughes.

Hughes died last Thursday, aged 25, two days after being hit near the ear by a ball while batting for South Australia against his former state side New South Wales at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

India's stand-in captain Virat Kohli, team director Ravi Shastri and former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist walked together for a while as part of a large group that followed the casket out of the hall and on the long procession. Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Brian Lara and Richard Hadlee were among the greats of the game paying their respects at the service,

Sean Abbott, the 22-year-old who bowled the delivery which fatally injured Hughes, was at the funeral. He was consoled by members of Hughes' family.

Clarke has already said Abbott cannot not be held responsible.

In steaming temperatures of nearly 30Celsius (85F), early arrivals to the service, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, fanned themselves with papers.

At the front of the hall, near the altar for the Roman Catholic service, was Hughes' oak brown casket. Flowers, a cricket bat and his baggy green Test cap were nearby.

Leading the service, which included a video tribute, Father Michael Alcock remembered the batsman as a "shining light".

"In his short time he walked as a child of the light, not in an ostentatious way but in a natural, unassuming and passionate way," the priest said.

Jason Hughes, Phillip's older brother, said his sibling was "destined to be a rock star".

"I couldn't have asked for a better little brother," Hughes said as his parents Greg and Virginia wept in the front row of the congregation.