This was his ground, the SCG: Michael Clarke on Phil Hughes
Sydney: Emotions ran high on the opening day of the fourth and final Test between India and Australia as injured skipper Michael Clarke led a series of tributes for late Phillip Hughes, who was fatally struck by a bouncer six weeks back at the SCG.
Clarke, who is part of the Channel Nine team, has been been with the Hughes' family since the fateful incident took place on November 25 and once again gave his emotions voice in the first international match after tragedy struck on this ground.
"This was his ground, the Sydney Cricket Ground," Clarke said in a Nine Network tribute, here today.
"I never had a blood brother but he was my brother. Together we enjoyed life and celebrated one another's successes, when he made runs when I made runs. It felt like we made our hundreds together.
"His love of life, it helped me get out of bed in the morning, I didn't want him to beat me at anything, yet loved it when he did," he added.
In another moving tribute, the crowd stood to applaud when it was announced during the pre-match ceremony that Hughes's parents Greg and Virginia and siblings Jason and Megan were in attendance. Players of both teams, stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the Members Pavilion ahead of the national anthems, also joined in the round of applause from the crowd as an image of Hughes was displayed on the big screen on the eastern side of the ground.
Hughes, who had represented Australia in 26 Tests and 25 ODIs, was hit by Sean Abbott delivery in a Sheffield Shield game at the SCG and succumbed to his injuries two days after. Clarke spoke of Hughes' resilience.
"A good guy who fought for everything he ever got and then fought some more, who never gave up," Clarke said.
It would have been another heart-wrenching moment for the Australian players, particularly David Warner, Brad Haddin, Shane Watson, Nathan Lyon and Mitchell Starc, who were in the middle of the SCG to witness the freak on-field accident.
Warner made his own personal tribute when he reached 63 - the score Hughes had reached before tragedy stuck - by bending down to kiss the brown patch of grass at the Randwick End that marks the spot where the man from Macksville was felled.
Also when the Australian openers walked out onto the ground for the first ball, Warner stopped to put his hand on the bronze tribute to Hughes that was installed just outside the players' rooms.