Like all Australians, Volunteer Firefighters make up a huge number of cricket fans and we are all are deeply saddened by the loss Phillip Hughes.
Phillip Hughes was born in Macksville, a small town on the north coast of New South Wales, to parents Greg and Virginia. The son of a banana farmer and an Italian mother, Hughes was also a talented rugby league player who once played alongside Australian rugby league international Greg Inglis. He played his junior cricket for the Macksville R.S.L Cricket Club, where he excelled so quickly that he was playing A-Grade at the age of 12. At the age of 17, Hughes moved from Macksville to Sydney to play for Western Suburbs District Cricket Club in Sydney Grade Cricket while he attended Homebush Boys High. He scored 141* on his grade debut and enjoyed a solid 2006–07 season scoring 752 runs at an average of 35.81 with a highest score of 142*. He represented Australia at the Under-19s World Cup in 2007.
Less than a week after his debut in first-class cricket, on 28 November 2007, Hughes made his List A debut against Victoria at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. While he was not originally scheduled to play the match, sickness to Australian opening batsman Phil Jaques handed him the spot. Just as he did in his first-class debut, Hughes passed 50 but was eventually dismissed for 68, top scoring for New South Wales in a “controlled” display.
After consistently making runs at domestic level, Hughes was called up to replace Matthew Hayden on Australia’s tour of South Africa in February and March 2009. He was selected to make his debut in the first Test match starting on 26 February 2009 at the New Wanderers Stadium in Johannesburg after making 53, then retiring, in Australia’s tour match against the South African Board President’s XI. He was dismissed for a duck in his first Test innings by Dale Steyn off just the fourth ball of the match, however he went on to top-score with 75 in the second innings, including 11 fours and a six.
Hughes hit his maiden Test hundred in the first innings of the second Test at the Sahara Stadium, Kingsmead, Durban on 6 March 2009, before adding another hundred in the second Innings. In doing so, Hughes, at the age of 20 years and 96 days, became both the youngest Australian since Doug Walters to score a Test century, and the youngest player from any country to score a century in both innings of a Test match.
During the 2009 Ashes campaign, Hughes’ unorthodox technique was exploited by fast bowlers, who targeted his upper body, and avoided bowling wide outside off stump, restricting his opportunities to play shots through the offside, most notably the cut shot. He was dropped from the team, for the third Edgbaston Test in favour of Shane Watson, who opened the batting in his place and provided the Australians with an extra bowling option.
John Inverarity, former chairman of the national selection panel of cricket Australia, noted that Hughes was considered an important part of Australia’s future.
Hughes was rewarded for good form in 2012 by being selected, first in Australia’s Test squad for the Sri Lanka tour of Australia in 2012–13, then in the Australian ODI squad for the first two ODI’s in the same tour. On 11 January 2013, Hughes became the first Australian batsman in the history of ODI cricket to score a century on debut, a feat which he achieved against Sri Lanka in Melbourne. Hughes was also the youngest cricketer ever to score back-to-back centuries in a test match, a feat which he achieved in Durban, 2009 against South Africa.
We thank Phil Hughes for giving us all so much pleasure over Summer, a true aussie that did his country proud.