Cricketers gather at Alstonville to remember Phillip Hughes
FAR North Coast cricketers united in grief last night to remember former Australian Test batsman Phillip Hughes.
The inspiring journey of a cricket-mad country kid who make it big ground to a shuddering halt on Thursday, as the 25-year-old was tragically killed in a freak bowling accident.
Stan Gilchrist, the father of Hughes' mate and cricket legend Adam Gilchrist, arranged the service at St Bartholomew's, Alstonville, which attracted a sizeable crowd.
Hughes was close friends with Lismore cricketer Tom Cooper, who was his batting partner at the time of the Sydney Cricket Ground accident on Tuesday.
Other local cricketers either knew Hughes personally, or admired the Macksville man for his likeable personality, contribution to the game and unorthodox, but entertaining, play style.
Mr Gilchrist spoke at the service about Hughes' cricketing career, his determination and the shock resonating through the local community.
He said: "Phil Hughes epitomised determination and resolve" and spoke of his "ability to put aside his selection disappointment and the crap that was being directed at him and apply himself to the task at hand".
Mr Gilchrist encouraged local cricketers to band together, watch out for each other and take to the pitch without hesitation, considering the minute chance of a similar incident.
"We are a cricketing family, a cricketing body. When one of us suffers, then the whole body hurts. But the whole body is willing to get in and help repair the damage," he said.
"So if you are hurting, feeling sad, confused or in any way grieving for Phillip, for other traumas, the memory of which have resurfaced as a result of all this, please think about what I have just said.
"It is most acceptable to feel hurt...and it is most advisable to seek the counsel, the advice, the help and the love of someone else with whom you can share your hurt."
Far North Coast Cricket Academy regional coach Michael Wood said he and the young players under his tutelage were devastated.
"I was shocked when I heard. My immediate thoughts went to Phil's family, friends and the players he was playing with," he said.
"My thoughts also go to the Cooper family.
"I do have concerns for some of the younger players in our area. I've received a number of calls and texts from younger players and I've provided some advice for them."
Mr Woods described Hughes' as a great player who batted with relentless tenacity.
"He had a hunger for runs, 50 was never enough. 100 was never enough," he said.
"He was on the cusp of making the Australian side again. It's a tragic loss."
Far North Coast Cricket Council president John Buttrum offered his condolences. "On behalf of the Far North Coast Cricket Council, we're deeply shocked to hear of Phillip Hughes passing," he said.
"Our thoughts are with his family, friends and teammates in this most difficult time."
Casino batsmen Sam Irvine, who played alongside Hughes in their teens, offered his condolences to all affected.
"I probably speak on behalf of Australia when I say this is absolutely gut-wrenching."