Michael Clarke has penned an emotional tribute to mark his great friend Phillip Hughes’s birthday, just three days after the young cricketer tragically died.
On Sunday, News Corp Australia published the Australian skipper’s personal eulogy to Hughes who passed away on Thursday following receiving a blow to the head by a ball during a match earlier in the week.
“I don’t think in 12 years of playing cricket at the top level I have ever come across a more loyal or generous-hearted teammate,” Clarke wrote in The Australian.
“If he had a tough conversation with a selector he would nod, agree he needed to work harder, grin because he felt bad for the person delivering the message and then get on with it.
“You knew deep down he was shattered because playing cricket for his country meant everything to him.
“That his career, and his life, was cut short in his prime is incredibly unfair.
“I don’t have a blood brother, but I am very proud to have called Phillip my brother. I am a better man for having known him.
“Vale Hugh Dog. I will miss you forever, but I will not forget.
“Happy birthday bro.”
Clarke called for the full support of Sean Abbott, the bowler who delivered the fateful ball that killed Hughes.
“Not one single person blames him in any way for what has happened. He deserves our full support,” he noted.
“He will absolutely have mine whenever he needs it, and I know that also goes for the entire Australian cricket community.
“Sean, when you feel like getting back on the horse mate, I promise you that I will be the first to strap on the pads and go stand up the end of the net to hit them back at you.
“It’s exactly what Hugh Dog would want us both to do.”
The tribute was published a day after Michael Clarke fought back tears while reading out a statement to the press about Phil Hughes on behalf of the Australian cricket team.
Clarke also posted on Twitter it “has been the hardest few days of my life”.
The funeral for Phil Hughes will be held on Wednesday in his hometown of Macksville in country NSW. It will be broadcast live on national television.
The first cricket Test between Australia and India, which was due to commence the next day in Brisbane, has been postponed. A new date for the game has yet to be set.
IMAGE: Michael Clarke (L) and Phil Hughes of Australia leave the field at the close of play during day three of the Second Test between South Africa and Australia played at Kingsmead on March 8, 2009 in Durban, South Africa. (Photo by Hamish Blair/Getty Images)