Phil Hughes

I had just finished working in the yard on Thursday afternoon. I went into Dad’s office to tell him I had finished and ask him when we were going to cricket training.

“Phil Hughes died.”

It really hit me. The spreading sense of shock. I went to my room and wondered if I wanted to train. It seemed logical not to. All play in the Sheffield Shield had been called off. Club cricket would be called off too. In the end, I went. It would do me no good to sit in my room and stew.

It was a flat and quiet training session. Something just hung in the air. No one’s heart was in it. Bowlers immediately apologised if they bowled a short ball.

All the while I was wondering. Why did it hurt us all so badly?

Cricket is just a game. No one knows that as well as local cricketers – we could have invented the phrase. We joke around, ribbing ourselves and our teammates more than the opposition. Winning is good, losing isn’t so bad. After games, we sit around with the opposition, chatting and drinking with them. Old, young, rich, poor, we all look the same in a pair of whites.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t take it seriously. We really do.
Cricket teaches a lot about life: discipline, endurance, overcoming fears, trust, responsibility, dealing with failure, and achieving goals with mates. That’s why Phil Hughes’ death means so much. It has punctured what we feel and believe. A sport that provides lessons for life is suddenly providing the reality of death. We can die at any time. Cricket is not immune to that fact.

A young man with his life and career ahead of him is dead. A freak accident has taken a son, brother and friend without warning.
Yet, as Dad said late that night, “You’d be surprised at how life goes on.”
And I thought of all of Hughes’ teammates gathered at the St Vincent’s Hospital. Michael Clarke shakily but determinedly reading his family’s statement to the press. Thousands of people sending in tributes.
He’s right. Life will go on. But not yet. And never again for Phil Hughes.

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.


  1. Eloquently worded Callum.



  2. Well said Callum

    Cricket will be very interesting and different this weekend around the local grounds I am sure. Keen to hear your report Monday about how different it felt playing. Was the normal banter still there? Less short stuff?

    Still in shock, as everyone is. Going off to watch an U16 game this evening, wonder how the young boys will react to it all


  3. G’day Callum,

    I am not familiar with cricket so your writing is good to know about the sport and what cricketers feel and face.

    It must be hard for you and your teammates to practice after Phil’s death. I understand emotion laid under you guys.

    As well as Sean, I’m still in shock. Tributes are on social media today. It’s too big…

    RIP Philip Hughes


  4. Eloquently put, Callum. Your dad sounds like a wise man. Life does go on, and most of us get to put our shoes on tomorrow, and go back to work or sport or whatever we do.
    The trick is in what lessons we learn from events like this, and how it affects the way we choose to live our own lives.

  5. Yvette Wroby says

    Thankyou Callum,

    in sharing your thoughts you are helping all of us process the unthinkable, and it’s a gift and very generous of you to share the gift with us. Life and death, and love, is the one string that ties the universe of humans together.

    Be well and healthy


  6. G’day Callum,
    It’s interesting, isn’t it?
    Such a huge outpouring of emotion.
    What does it all mean?
    I guess we relate to Phil Hughes.
    Today has been a sad day and tonight a very sad night for me.
    That’s fine. That’s good.

    And while I reckon your Dad’s spot on, each person will take their own way about it.
    All the best in your game.

  7. So sad. It has been a terrible week. So sad, so young. This story will stay with everyone for the rest of their days. They will always remember Phil Hughes. So much of this reminds me of how people must have reacted when Keith Voitre died. A jockey, he died too at the age of 25. Right at the top of his game in 1938. There was a huge outpouring of emotion for Keith as with Phil. I think someone once said there is no greater tragedy than the death of a person in the prime of their lives. That says it all for me.

  8. Luke Reynolds says


    Had the same feelings going to my cricket training Thursday night. I’m sure amateur cricketers all over the nation felt the same. But your Dad is right. Life goes on. But P.Hughes will very much be remembered.

  9. Deanne Tindale says


    Exceptional insight and understanding of what cricket not only is, but what it represents. Even now, with time passed, words about Phil Hughes have impact. You have a great writing style Callam – thanks for sharing more of you.


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