Thursday, 27 November 2014

Phillip Hughes: Gone Too Soon

One moment, he was pressing for a spot in the Australian Test team. The very next, he was battling the toughest opponent called life. Unfortunately, he lost both battles. Phillip Joel Hughes, all of 25, was struck by a deadly bouncer from New South Wales bowler Sean Abbott in a Sheffield Shield game on November 25, never to return playing his beloved sport ever again. Who would have thought? The heart sinks. The tears start to flow...

The morning of November 27 was a shocker for cricket lovers across the world as news of Hughes' demise spread like fire, resulting in utter disbelief and a total loss of words. A young, hardworking and talented batsman was on the verge of making a much deserved Test comeback, with his family watching him from the stands. Little did they know this was all for nothing in the end. How could something so tragic happen to someone whose life revolved only around playing cricket? Was it the bowler's fault? Was it because of the helmet? Did god have his own plans? Or was it just a freak accident that capitulated into death? We may or may not get all the answers. What we most certainly now know, is that life is short, life is cruel and life is undoubtedly unpredictable!

How do we believe this has happened for real? Hughes' passing away has left a void so huge that cricket will never be the same again for its players, the fans and everyone who loves the sport in their own way. We turn to sport to get away from our worries and struggles of life, but now that sport itself has presented us with a tragedy that is difficult to comprehend, how do we deal with this loss? The next time any bowler steams in to bowl, what would be his underlying thoughts? Spare a thought for young Abbott. The 22-year old lad will probably carry the burden on his shoulders for the rest of his life. It is important now, to make sure we do not lose another cricketer in Abbott. Cricket is poorer without Hughes, the charming southpaw who probably had dreams of his own but not enough time to fulfill them. A long and potentially fruitful career cut short by a brutal delivery, such is the danger our favourite sport carries. Cricket meant everything to him, and the way he left us has numbed our minds. Will the scars heal? Does time really heal all our wounds and teach us to cope with a loss so deep?

This is indeed a bad day for cricket, maybe the worst. The cricketing family has lost one of its most dedicated members and the extent of the loss cannot be put into words by any means. It is shocking, it is tragic and it is sudden. When good people like Hughes go, you just ask one question to the one who took him away - WHY?

RIP Phillip Hughes - 63* in his final innings.

In our hearts and in our souls,
In our prayers and in our memories,
You will be cherished,
You will be remembered.

Thursday, 6 March 2014

Farewell, Biff!

Robust yet subtle, muscular yet elegant – Few could carry the aura as graciously as South Africa's green-eyed boy, Graeme Smith. A decade of excellence involving top-notch batting and incredible captaincy finally comes to an end, leaving behind some wonderful memories.

I've never liked a lot of left-handed batsmen, of course with the exception of Alastair Cook. Watching Graeme Smith bat was something that happened randomly. At 22, this young man was handed one of the most tedious jobs of a cricketer – leadership. And boy, what has he done! South Africa's youngest captain had a huge task ahead of him, and he had no qualms about it.

For the past 11 years, South African cricket flourished under Smith's tutelage. What I find remarkable is the fact that his batting was hardly affected by the responsibility of captaincy, in fact it only became better. 27 Test hundreds and none of them involved a South Africa defeat – this has to be one of a kind! The Proteas haven't won an ICC trophy under him, but that doesn't undermine Smith's capability as a leader. He was upfront, brutal and spot on – in everything he did. His achievements as South Africa's most successful Test captain only became a reassurance.

Biff was one of the few cricketers I grew up watching and admiring. For me, South African cricket and Graeme Smith almost always sounded synonymous. It still does. Watching him marshaling his troops had become a habit of sorts. It will be hard to imagine a South African side sans Smith.

Perhaps, my best memory of a dedicated Graeme Smith will always be the 2009 Sydney Test against Australia, where the courageous captain came out to bat with a broken hand and departed to a loud applause and standing ovation from the crowd.

Goodbye, Biff. Thank you for the memories.