The Tea Break That Never Came

My original blog of this week will become my blog of next week, and this week has been rather trying.

Not for me, apart from minor issues of earache, toothache and headache, it’s been a good week otherwise. It’s been far worse for many others.

In Ferguson, Missouri, USA, a Grand Jury listened to a bunch of witnesses telling contradictory stories, then decided not to go ahead with a trial to work out who was telling the truth. I thought that odd. Thousands of Americans and others protested this decision, peacefully, online or in person. Sadly, thousands also decided that robbing a shop-owner of their livelihood or torching a family car could make things OK.

The “Black Friday” sales in the US & UK have also provided uncomfortable footage of greed and people acting like wild animals.

Wild storms in Brisbane have damaged incredible amounts of property and thankfully not claimed any lives.

But in Australia this week, there is only one news story:Phil Hughes.

As regular readers realise, I can never mention the greatest sport in the world- cricket- without a few humorous remarks about other, inferior sports. But not this week.

On Tuesday, my state’s team, The South Australian Redbacks, was playing the New South Wales State team. Our opening batsman, Phil Hughes, knew that a good performance was likely to earn him a spot in the Australian team to play India next week.

He grew up in, and started playing cricket in NSW. He was batting well against many of his former teammates, when a good friend of his, Sean Abbott, bowled an excellent delivery.  Phil misread it, and ended up out of position. He turned his head, and the ball somehow struck him just outside of the grille of his helmet, on the neck.

The ball split an artery. A moment later, he collapsed.

The usual outcome of such an outcome is instant death, but thanks to on-ground medical staff and a trauma specialist who was in the crowd, he was revived and taken to St Vincent’s Hospital. After surgery and two days, he passed away, at age 25.

The injury was so unusual, St Vincent’s – a major Sydney hospital – had never seen one before.

The collective outpouring in Australia and elsewhere has been incredible. I could list the hundreds of tributes to show this, but it is exemplified by the 2 minutes and 7 seconds it took Australian Cricket Captain Michael Clarke to read a prepared statement – it seemed like 10 minutes – or the footage from the Pakistan vs New Zealand match in Dubai, where a whole day’s play was conducted in virtual silence, with no loud appealing, no celebrating of wickets or great scores.

The most notable emotion in Australia, and everywhere from Buckingham Palace to an Elton John gig in Germany, has been quiet respect.

And so, on what would have been Phillip Joel Hughes’ 26th Birthday, I find myself sitting quietly with an early morning cup of simple Keemun, pondering the Tea Break that never came.


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