Sean Abbott has returned to training along with his New South Wales Blues side just a week after the tragic accident that claimed the life of Australian batsman Phillip Hughes.
Abbott’s bouncer struck Hughes on the back of the neck after he mistimed a pull shot, something that is not uncommon in the game of cricket that is usually nothing more than an aggressive tactic. However, Hughes – in what was described as a “freak accident” – suffered a vertebral artery dissection and despite being rushed to hospital by air ambulance, died two days later from his injuries.
The 25-year-old’s funeral takes place on Wednesday in his hometown of Macksville in New South Wales, where 5000 mourners are expected to join the celebration of Hughes’ life in what is sure to be a highly emotional time.
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
Somewhat admirably, Abbott returned to training on Tuesday at the Sydney Cricket Ground – the venue of the horror accident, and the entire squad will travel to the funeral together on Wednesday morning before flying back on Thursday.
“It's the whole squad that really needs everyone's support,” a spokeswoman for Cricket NSW told the Daily Mail Australia.
“We want to keep supporting them as a group there were a lot of Phillip's friends in the team.”
It will also be the first time that Abbott will see the family of his good friend Hughes since his sad passing last Thursday. Hughes, who would have been 26 on Sunday, died with his family and friends by his side.
A family member told the Daily Mail Australia that they can’t wait to see Abbott and “give him a big kiss and a hug” in an effort to console the 22-year-old pace bowler.
“We can't wait to see Sean Abbott tomorrow and give him a big kiss and hug,” the family member said.
“We just want to tell him it was freak accident and he cannot think he had anything to do with it.
“No one is blaming him. We want to hug him and tell him that everything is okay.”
The reaction towards Abbott has been one of mass support for a young man that has suffered a traumatic experience at such a young age. Former Australia wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist tweeted: “May those footprints in the sand now support another young man in need. #SeanAbbott”.
Both Hughes’ sister Megan and Australia captain Michael Clarke – who will be a pall bearer at the funeral on Wednesday – consoled Abbott in the days after the tragedy, while the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Opposition leader Bill Shorten both gave their support to the pace bowler.