From the flowers that lined the Southern Plaza of Adelaide Oval to the “408” painted on the grass, Phillip Hughes was remembered and revered Tuesday by the cricketing world in a manner befitting the mark he left in his short time in the sport.
Hughes, who died Nov. 27 two days after being hit by a short-pitched delivery in a domestic match, was honored in a short video tribute by former Australia captain and commentator Richie Benaud before the start of the first Australia-India test.
Australia players also wore No. 408- Hughes’ test cap number- with black armbands on their shirts, and there was 63 seconds of applause in his honor. Hughes, 25, was not out on 63 runs when he was fatally injured at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Under sunny skies on a perfect day for the start of the delayed series due to Hughes’ death, hundreds in the crowd also wore the number 63 on their shirts or hats and others held up 63 Not Out signs provided by a local daily newspaper.
Hughes was also included as an honorary 13th man in Australia’s lineup for the first test.
David Warner, who was playing at the SCG the day Hughes sustained his fatal injuries, scored 145 runs on Tuesday to lead Australia to 354-6, and then dedicated his 10th test century to Hughes. Warner also stopped and looked up to the sky when he was on 63 runs, and the crowd applauded.
“It was quite tough there early on with the 63-second applause and getting through that national anthem,” Warner said. “I think that’s where it probably set me off a little bit inside. But I knew the little man up there was with me at the other end and it all fell into place.”
Hughes, born in Macksville, New South Wales, where his funeral was held last week, played most recently for South Australia state and was a popular member of the Adelaide-based team.
He played 26 test matches for Australia after making his debut in 2009, but despite a strong start to his international career at 19, he was not able to earn a regular spot in the starting lineup.
After making 75 in his first test innings against South Africa in Johannesburg, he posted centuries in each innings of his second test, becoming the youngest player ever to do that in test cricket. But he struggled on the subsequent tour of England and was in and out of the Australian team four more times. He was on the verge of another test recall when he lost his life.