Phillip Hughes funeral: Australian cricketer gets emotional send-off

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Tributes were paid to Philip Hughes at his funeral in Macksville last week

Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke broke down in tears as he paid tribute to friend and team-mate Phillip Hughes at the batsman's funeral.

Hughes, 25, died last week after being hit by a ball during a match in Sydney.

His death stunned Australia and the funeral was broadcast live to millions of people on national television and on big screens in major cities.

Around 5,000 people attended the service in Hughes's home town of Macksville, New South Wales.

The service was also shown at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where Hughes suffered the injury during a state match on Tuesday, 25 November. He died two days later.

The order of service
The front page of the order of service carried a photo of Hughes

During the 80-minute service, Clarke said: "Phillip's spirit, which is now part of our game forever, will act as a custodian of the sport we all love.

"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.

"So rest in peace my little brother. I will see you out in the middle."

Around 1,000 people attended the funeral at Macksville High School, which Hughes attended, as thousands more watched on screens in the baking heat outside.

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Australia captain Michael Clarke: "We must dig in and get through to tea. And we must play on"

Joining the parents of Hughes, Greg and Virginia, and his siblings, Jason and Megan, were Clarke and Sean Abbott, the bowler whose delivery caused the fatal injury to Hughes.

Former Australia internationals Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting, Adam Gilchrist, Steve Waugh and Justin Langer were also among the mourners.

They were joined by Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott and cricketing legends from around the world, including former New Zealand all-rounder Sir Richard Hadlee and West Indies batsman Brian Lara.

Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland told mourners: "I imagine Phillip has 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. Phillip Hughes... forever unconquered on 63."

The mother of Hughes, Virginia, is comforted as she leaves the service
The mother of Hughes, Virginia, is comforted as she leaves the service

Jason and Megan Hughes also read letters to their brother.

"I couldn't have asked for a better little brother," said Jason. "From a very young age, you were destined to be our rock star.

"I miss you, I'm so proud of you and thank you again for all the memories. I'll love you now and forever."

Megan added: "I want to thank you for being the most amazing brother I could ask for. You have certainly changed the way I look at and appreciate life. I will certainly take every opportunity that comes by."

Hughes, who would have been 26 on 30 November, was in line for a possible recall to the Australia Test side for the forthcoming series against India - which was rescheduled following his death.

Gregory Hughes, father of Phillip, helps carry his son's coffin
Gregory Hughes, father of Phillip, helps carry his son's coffin

The left-handed batsman, who also played for English counties Hampshire, Middlesex and Worcestershire, had already played 26 Tests for his country, after making his Test debut at the age of 20 against South Africa in 2009.

The number 63 - the runs he had scored when he was fatally injured - has become inextricably linked with Hughes, as has the social media campaign that urged people to remember the batsman by placing cricket bats outside homes, workplaces and at sports grounds.

Macksville, with a population of just 2,500, lies on Australia's east coast in the state of New South Wales.

Father Michael Alcock told mourners: "We gather to celebrate his 26 years of life. That is what we are doing here this afternoon.

"To those both near and far whom his life has touched, we pray that today we will feel some consolation as we celebrate his life."

Cricket bats lean against the front fence of St Patrick's Primary School as a tribute to former student Hughes
Bats lean against the front fence of St Patrick's Primary School as a tribute to former student Hughes

Among those to send their condolence messages was West Indies great Sir Viv Richards, who tweeted: "My heart goes out to the family, friends & the people of Macksville honouring their favourite son Phillip today. Viv."

The service opened with the song Forever Young and closed with Elton John's Don't Let the Sun Go Down on Me.

The local community also took part in a public procession that followed the hearse at the conclusion of the service.

Following the ceremony, Prime Minister Abbott wrote on Twitter: "A sad, poignant, beautiful service to celebrate the life of Phillip Hughes today in Macksville," adding the hashtag 'RIP Phillip Hughes'.

Former Australia batsman Damien Martyn tweeted: "Such a beautiful service. Forever remembered and never forgotten..."

Phil Mercer, BBC News in Macksville
"The feeling here was one of extreme sadness, but it was also pretty uplifting. As the priest said at the start of the service, this was an occasion also to celebrate 26 years of life. One thing everyone had in common today is that they were struck by just how much emotion was swirling around this town. It's safe to say this little town has put on a remarkable display, as world cricket says a final goodbye to Phillip Hughes."
Phillip Hughes's casket arrives at his funeral
Phillip Hughes's casket arrives at his funeral
The coffin was topped with white flowers
The coffin was topped with white flowers
Sean Abbott
Sean Abbott, who was bowling when Hughes was struck, is comforted as he arrives at the funeral
Australia captain Michael Clarke and wife Kyly arrive for the service
Australia captain Michael Clarke and wife Kyly arrive for the service
Brian Lara (left) and Shane Warne arrive for the service
Brian Lara (left) and Shane Warne arrive for the service
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is greeted by Father Michael Alcock
Prime Minister Tony Abbott is greeted by Father Michael Alcock
The coffin of Hughes is carried down the aisle at Macksville High School
The coffin of Hughes is carried down the aisle at Macksville High School
The Baggy Green of Phillip Hughes and his state cricket caps hang on a hat rack at Macksville High School
Hughes' 'Baggy Green' Australia cap and his state caps hang on a hat rack at Macksville High School
Michael Clarke
Australia captain Michael Clarke pays his respects to Phillip Hughes
Couple watches funeral at SCG
A couple watches the funeral at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where Hughes was fatally injured
Mourners gather for a memorial service at the Sydney Cricket Ground and look at 63 bats with inscriptions detailing the career of Phillip Hughes
Mourners gather for a memorial service at the Sydney Cricket Ground
A large procession of mourners walk through the streets of Macksville
A large procession of mourners walk through the streets of Macksville
Thousands march through Macksville following the funeral
Thousands marched to pay tribute to Hughes

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