"Just not fair". The first three words of my brother's message to me after I told him that Phillip Hughes had passed away on Thursday.
I always thought that if I was to ever write something about Phillip Hughes it would be about how this was his big chance, that this was the moment where he cemented his spot in the Australian test side for years to come and that this was where the comparisons with the Australian greats of yesteryear would end.
I always thought that if I was to ever write something about Phillip Hughes it would be about how he had proven the doubters wrong, about how he had shown that a boy from the country with a homespun technique could make it against the giants of speed and spin and about how the small guy with a cheeky grin had inspired young cricketers across the world to never forget where they came from.
I never thought that I would be writing about this.
It is often said that sport is trivial and that it does not matter. It is hard to argue with that especially in the light of what has happened. Whether it's playing or watching we enter into that strange little contract where for a certain length of time, be that 80 minutes or five days, nothing else matters. All of our time, effort and emotion is focused so intently that sometimes it does feel like the most important thing in the world. Yet, at the same time, we know it isn't that important and we do our best to keep things in perspective.
In the last few days however we've also seen why sport does matter. The way the cricketing and wider sporting world has come together shows why we put so much of our time, effort and emotion into our love of sport. Cricket is not a sport that has been united for a long time but the life of Phillip Hughes has brought everyone together and made us forget the squabbles of those at the top. People who had never heard of him before last week have been touched by his passing and have also shared, in some small way, the grief of those closest to him.
In sport and in life we like to think that everyone's story will follow a path. There is a start, a middle and an end. Along the way there are challenges, triumphs, speed bumps and everything else in between. For us Phillip Hughes' story as a cricketer had barely begun. He still had another ten years at the top level. He still had a 100 caps to win, over 20 test centuries to hit, Ashes series to win and records to break. That story will never happen now.
And yet Phillip Hughes story and his life is about so much more than what could have been. It was about a boy who grew up playing cricket with his dad and brother. It was about the young man who was loved and respected wherever he went. It was about the batsman with so much potential. It was about the son and brother who would much rather spend his off-season back home and spoke about spending his time on the farm when he retired.
It is about how his story is not over. It is about how his life will be remembered whenever a batsman reaches 63. It is about how generations of young cricketers will be told to just enjoy the game. It is about how in cricket's darkest days the sport has rallied around a young bowler whose life has been forever changed. It is about how people from across the world have been united in grief and support for his family and friends.
It is about so much more that hasn't been written yet.
Rest in Peace Phillip. Forever 63 Not Out.Suggest a correction