Michael Clarke leads tributes to Phillip Hughes at funeral
Australian skipper breaks down as nation comes to a standstill for service
The funeral of Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, who died last week after being hit by a bouncer, has taken place in his hometown of Macksville, NSW - bringing the nation to a standstill.
The town's streets were lined with cricket bats - a nod to the #putoutyourbats tributes that have swept social media since the 25-year-old's death - and 2,000 people, including many of the current Australian team and cricket legends such as Brian Lara, Richard Hadlee and Shane Warne, attended the service at Macksville High School, which was broadcast live on television.
Also among the mourners was Sean Abbott, the 22-year-old New South Wales fast bowler who delivered the ball that hit Hughes, rupturing an artery in his neck, during the Sheffield Shield match in Sydney last week.
Abbott was "received gracefully by the other mourners with the former Australia international Dean Jones among those to reach out and shake his hand", says The Guardian.
The Australian captain, Michael Clarke, who was one of the pallbearers, gave a tearful address at the service, admitting that Hughes would have mocked him for crying. He concluded his address with the words: "We must dig in and get through to tea, and we must play on. So rest in peace, my little brother. I'll see you out in the middle."
— Mazher Arshad (@cricket_U) December 3, 2014
— Alec Stewart (@StewieCricket) December 3, 2014
— Telegraph Sport (@TelegraphSport) December 3, 2014
"Clarke, who regarded Hughes as something of a younger brother, said the tragic loss had both devastated and united the cricketing world," reports Jonathan Pearlman of the Daily Telegraph.
It has also had a huge impact on Australia. "In this sports obsessed country, the somewhat freakish death of Hughes has... turned into a national event," reports Pearlman. "The outpouring of grief and saturation media coverage has been likened to the response to the death of Princess Diana."
Despite the presence of so many famous cricketers, most of who attended the funeral were locals, at the request of the family, and the service had an intimate air.
"While Hughes's immense cricketing gifts brought him to the nation's, and the world's, attention, his funeral heard mostly of his life away from the wicket: the big baby dubbed 'buffon' by a grandfather who thought he was chunky; the young boy obsessed with catching a legendary giant fish said to inhabit the Nambucca river; the teenager surprised and disappointed to learn that a school called 'Homebush Boys' didn't have any female students; the aspiring cattleman never happier than at work on the farm," reports the Guardian.
"His journey from the backyard to baggy green cap 408 personified the Australian cricketing dream," said Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland.
A sad, poignant, beautiful service to celebrate the life of Phillip Hughes today in Macksville #RIPPhillipHughes
— Tony Abbott (@TonyAbbottMHR) December 3, 2014