Phillip Joel Hughes, the son of Greg and Virginia Hughes, was born November 30, 1988. Phillip grew up on a banana farm at Macksville in northern New South Wales. Clearly a gifted young cricketer, at the age of 17 he went to Sydney to play for Western Suburbs while attending Homebush Boys’ High School.
He went on to play for South Australia, and made a century on his one-day international debut at the age of 20, the first Australian to do so. Like Ian Craig and Norman O’Neill before him, he found himself compared to Don Bradman, which was not helpful.
Hughes scored heavily in domestic cricket but was repeatedly dropped by the Australian selectors as he struggled against pace and, in India, spin. There was the occasional cameo: his third Test century came against Sri Lanka in 2010, and he made 86 off 75 balls against New Zealand in 2010; but he was soon regarded more as a backup opening batsman than a regular choice.
He had brief spells with three counties in England – Middlesex, Worcestershire and Hampshire – making the same kind of immediate impact as he had done in international cricket. On his debut for Middlesex in 2009, he scored 118 and an unbeaten 65 against Glamorgan through what Wisden called “exuberant strokes either side of point”. It did not concern him that his predecessors who opened the batting at Lord’s on an April morning would not have chanced their arm against the new ball. But then Hughes was never one for the textbook.
In 26 Tests, Hughes scored 1,535 runs at an average of 32.65. His one-day average, 35.91, told of his suitability for this form of the game. He made 9,023 runs in first-class cricket at 46.51, with a top score of an unbeaten 243. He was thought to be on the verge of selection by Australia once more at the time of his death.