Australia’s run to the Cricket World Cup final has been defined by their aggression and take-no-prisoners attitude displayed since coach Darren Lehmann took over, with a revival of cricket Down Under set to be capped if they can secure victory on Sunday morning against rivals New Zealand.
Should they do so, the win will no doubt be used to pay tribute to their former team-mate Phillip Hughes, who tragically died in November last year after being struck on the back of the neck by a bouncer bowled by Sean Abbott.
While the game has done its best to move on from those horrifying days after the accident while remembering Hughes, it was clear that the effects of Hughes’ tragedy remain on the game.
Phillip Hughes: Career in pictures
Phillip Hughes: Career in pictures
1/7 Phil Hughes
Hughes burst onto the international scene by scoring 115 and 160 against South Africa in just his second Test
2/7 Phil Hughes
Hughes, playing here in a tour match against Sussex, is well known to English fans after spells with Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire
3/7 Phil Hughes
In last summer's Ashes series Hughes scored 81* at Trent Bridge as part of a 10th wicket partnership of 163 with the debutant Ashton Agar
4/7 Phil Hughes
Hughes's most recent Test outing was the Lords test of the 2013 Ashes series
5/7 Phil Hughes
Hughes has scored 1535 runs in 26 Test appearances at an average of 32.65
6/7 Phil Hughes
Despite making his Test debut in 2009 Hughes is still just 25 - he has played 114 First Class matches and scored 26 centuries
7/7 Phil Hughes
Although he has been absent from the Test line-up, Hughes recently regained his place in the One Day side for series against Pakistan and South Africa
Australian bowler Mitchell Starc was tasked with cleaning up the Indian tail with the reigning champions down and out on 233-9. Umesh Yadav was the unlucky man to come to the crease and was soon on his way back as Starc clinched victory, but there was a worrying moment before his dismissal when a ball struck the Indian on the back of the head.
Luckily, the ball hit the bottom of Yadav’s helmet, though he was clearly shaken up by the blow as he took a moment to gather his breath. Immediately, Australia captain Michael Clarke can be seen to gesture in a manner of concern, and he rushes to Yadav to check whether he’s ok.
Clarke’s soon joined by Starc as well as opener Aaron Finch and all-rounder Glenn Maxwell, and once Yadav had given the green light that he was ok, play was able to continue. Not long after, Starc got his man and the Australians were able to celebrate reaching their seventh World Cup final, but while the bowler could be criticised for bowling such a bouncer at the end of an innings that clearly wasn’t going to challenge Australia’s total, but it’s undoubtedly a positive to see the compassionate side remaining in the game.
Too often spats between players dominate games of cricket, with Australia’s recent Test series against India being dominated by bad blood and confrontations between the two sides which ran over to the ODI series that saw David Warner tell Rohit Sharma to “speak English” when the two had a dispute.
Cricket should be played with an aggressive edge – some of the best scenes have come in recent years when both sides have been on edge – yet showing concern for an opponent’s health is a reassuring sight and should not be criticised, otherwise we may as well take the bouncer out of the game completely.