Australia, SCG pay tribute to Hughes
SYDNEY, Australia (AP):
Australia's cricket team made an emotional return to the Sydney Cricket Ground yesterday, where former Test batsman Phillip Hughes was fatally injured during a domestic match in November.
Five members of Australia's Test line-up playing yesterday - Shane Watson, Nathan Lyon, Brad Haddin, David Warner and Mitchell Starc - were playing in the Sheffield Shield match between New South Wales and South Australia when Hughes - playing for South Australia - was struck by a short-pitched delivery and slumped to the ground. He died two days later in hospital. The ongoing Test series between Australia and India had to be rescheduled to allow players to mourn their former state and national teammate.
Prior to the start of the fourth Test against India, a video tribute was played on screens around the stadium followed by an on-field oration to celebrate the short career of 25-year-old Hughes.
"I was quite emotional at the singing of the anthems," said Warner, who scored 101 in Australia's first innings yesterday. "The tributes put those memories back in place, and seeing that little smile up on the screen before going out to bat and singing the national anthem was quite hard."
A permanent memorial plaque for Hughes was also unveiled in the Members Stand at the players' entrance to the arena, along with a display of 63 bats - to mark Hughes' score when he was felled - in the members pavilion recording key moments of his career.
"I had a tear in my eye this morning when I walked out to warm up and I saw Greg (Phil Hughes' father) up in the stands and Megs," said Warner. "It's fantastic for them to be here. The hurt and the pain that they've gone through and how much it would have hurt them to come back today."
During play, on reaching his 63rd run, Warner removed his helmet and kissed the ground near the spot where Hughes was fatally injured, when on 63 not out. Warner was fielding nearby for New South Wales that day and immediately tried to render assistance when his close friend collapsed to the ground.
Hughes played 26 Tests for Australia, scoring 1,525 runs at an average of 32.65, with three centuries, including two hundreds in one Test against South Africa in 2009.