Even at the highest levels, Cricket Australia officials are uncertain about staging the first test match between the visiting Indian tourists and Australia. All talks about cricket in general and the test match in particular have been overshadowed by Australians continuing to grieve over their friend and teammate Phillip Hughes, whose lost his life under the most tragic circumstances yesterday. The Brisbane test has been scheduled to begin on Thursday next but Cricket Australia’s Chief Executive Officer; James Sutherland thinks that the thoughts of the test match are a million miles away as players are still grief-stricken. Another official, Pat Howard, Cricket Australia’s executive general manager of team performance, added that the focus could not immediately shift from helping the players on day-to-day basis in overcoming their grief, rather than making strong choices. No one in Australian cricket wants to look further ahead. Howard added that the current priority was focused on people, which include players, family members, cricket officials and close friends. Howard went on to say that thoughts on cricket would take a backseat as today was about grieving and dealing with questions.
On Thursday night, cricketers, family members and friends of Phil Hughes met at the SCG to reflect on the life of the departed soul. No one was missing on the somber occasion, where all eyes were moist and the weight of the tragedy enormous. Also present were; team doctor Peter Brukner, Cricket NSW doctor John Orchard and team psychologist Michael Lloyd. All these people were present at the SCG on Tuesday, when Phil Hughes was felled by a bouncer that hit his neck. Despite their sincerest efforts and the surgery later on at Sydney’s St Vincent Hospital, Hughes’ life could not be saved. The entire Australian team and many past and present crickets kept vigil at the hospital and now that Hughes is no more, their grief knows no bounds. It is impossible to figure out at this stage as to how the players would cope, when they walk out for a Test match at the Gabba next Thursday. There are issues, where the players would still get involved; like working out the funeral details with the family and helping them by any other way in their moments of mourning.
Sutherland spoke to Hughes’ father Greg on Friday and came to know about the love of cricket in Hughes family. Greg said that his family loved cricket and Phillip loved cricket more than anything else and he would want the first test to go on scheduled. Regardless, the mindset of the players is important before they could take to the pitch at Gabba or anywhere else. India’s scheduled tour match at Adelaide against a Cricket Australia XI was cancelled on Thursday night and Sutherland was all praise for BCCI in being extremely supportive under these tragic circumstances. The support from the international cricket community following Hughes’ death has been continuous and overwhelming and in addition to India’s cancelled match at Adelaide, the mood in the second days play in the second test between Pakistan and New Zealand at far away Sharjah was one of mourning as well. Players on both sides observed a minute’s silence before the start of the day’s play and put their bats out as a tribute to Phillip Hughes. There were no sounds from the fielders, no celebrations on fall of wickets and no reactions from batsmen on their dismissals. The eerie silence on the field summed up the cricketers’ traumatized feelings for the loss of someone of their community.
Australian captain Michael Clarke spoke at the SCG about Hughes, on behalf of the national team and declared that Phil’s No. 64 ODI shirt will be retired out of respect for their late teammate. In his under three minute address, Clarke fought back tears at each sentence that he spoke and said that it was difficult to imagine how the Australian team could take the field at the Gabba next week.