Phillip Hughes funeral: Family, friends and cricket world bids farewell to batsman killed by ball

Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke said: 'Rest in peace my little brother, see you out in the middle'

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The Independent Online

Australia provided a grand and emotional farewell to Phillip Hughes, the 25-year-old cricket star whose death last week shocked the nation.

Michael Clarke, the country's cricket captain and a friend of Hughes, delivered a touching speech during which he broke into tears.

"Phillip's spirit, which is now part of our game forever, will act as a custodian of the sport we all love," he told mourners.

"We must listen to it. We must cherish it. We must learn from it. We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on."

The funeral, held in Hughes' hometown of Macksville, was a national event - broadcast live on Australian television and on big screens across the country.

Cricket legends from around the world, and high-profile public figures including Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott, joined Hughes' family and friends in a funeral congregation of around 1,000 people.

His coffin was placed at the front of the hall; around it were flowers, cricket bats, and even his test cap.


Hughes died on Thursday, two days after he was struck in the head by a ball during a match in Sydney on Tuesday.

He had scored 63 runs that day, and that number has been at the centre of a memorial social media movement for the popular young sportsman.

The Test series between Australia and India has been delayed until next week.

The funeral, which lasted 80 minutes, saw a series of moving tributes, including that of Cricket Australia chief James Sutherland: "I imagine Phillip had already taken guard up there and is currently flaying his trademark cut shot behind point.

"Cricket's heart has been pierced with pain, but it will never stop beating."

Hughes' older siblings Jason and Megan also read letters to their brother, calling him "our rock star" and saying he "changed the way I look at and appreciate life".

Australia captain Michael Clarke reads an emotional tribute to Phillip Clarke

The Roman Catholic ceremony closed to the tune of Elton John's 'Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me' - which the cricket fanatical British musician dedicated to Hughes at a performance in Berlin this weekend.

A separate memorial was held in Rome, led by the Vatican's cricket team.

Prime Minister Abbot called the service "sad and poignant".

West Indies cricket legend Sir Viv Richards tweeted: "My heart goes out to the family friends & people of Macksville honouring their favourite son Phillip today."

Hughes, who had played for English counties Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire, had been involved in 26 Tests for his country, having made his debut at the age of 20 against South Africa in 2009.