Sunday, January 11, 2015

There's Been Something Spiritual About This Test Series

This Test series here in Australia, against India, has been about so much more than just cricket.

I first read the devastating news of Phil Hughes' fatal injury when I was at work - one of my sister's actually sent me through a message just as I started reading about it, to check I was aware - and watched and waited like the rest of the worldwide cricket family with hope. I was glued to the feeds of news and updates for the 2 days. And then when the news came through of the 25 year old's death I needed to step away. I got back out to work, to do something meaningful. To remind myself of all that is really important in the world.

I watched our great captain Clarke work through his grief, lead his team, and support the Hughes family. I watched through a live stream, the funeral from country NSW, and teared up at the love and strength shown in Clarkie's eulogy. Never have I been so proud of a sporting figure.

Work had me out of contact and out of touch for the first day of the Adelaide Test, the first day of cricket since the abandoned match that took Hughes' life. I was flying home, on my way to Adelaide, to join MY cricket family.

It has been a little tough for me to feel the full weight of the emotion of it all, I think because of what I do, where I work, and what I hear about every day. But seeing the shrine of bats and flowers and messages out the front of Adelaide Oval, and in front of the photo of Phil Hughes brought it home for me.

The final stands of the RADelaide Test, with the impossible victory that Australia pulled off in the closing session...felt magical. Something spiritual was going on, something special. Whether we believe that Phil was looking down, or whether we just acknowledge that this playing group were playing more to honour their fallen mate than just for the mere game, it felt very different to any other win I have been present for. It was emotional. Meaningful.

I watched the rest of the series from home on a respite for the rescheduled Brisbane test, from grabs from the TV at work during the Melbourne test, and then again on a respite break just now for the Sydney test. Australia have taken the series 2-0, with 2 draws being the last results. Many significant cricket aspects went on this series - the Clarke injury, the newly crowned captaincy for Smith, the incredible form of Smith, Warner's grit, Johnson's unstoppable bowling, Dhoni's retirement, Kohli's form and captaincy...but there was a greater, more serious theme.

The collective draw of breath and fear that rippled through the ground, and screens, when the very first bouncer hit a batsman on the helmet. And each time someone reached 63. These were painful reminders of the tragic loss.

Images from the Summer like Smith's first hundred, in Adelaide, when he raised his bat to the sky, standing by the 408 painted on the ground. The whole team managing to gather together in winning jubilation, again, just above that 408 on the ground at the Adelaide Oval. Warner's hundred in Sydney, when he went to ground and kissed the pitch where Hughes had fallen. These will be lasting memories from this emotional Summer. Far greater than the series score.

Vale Phillip Hughes. Forever Young.

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