Both Pakistan and New Zealand team came together to mourn the loss of a young talent © Getty Images
Both Pakistan and New Zealand team came together to mourn the loss of a young talent © Getty Images

Barely 24 hours after Phil Hughes’ tragic death, Pakistan and New Zealand resumed their Test at the Sharjah Cricket Ground in a very somber atmosphere. Hughes’ death hit the cricketing community quite hard and the effects were quite evident early during day’s play in Sharjah. Nishad Pai Vaidya looks back at the day as cricket gradually got off and running.

Sharjah Cricket Stadium was quiet as usual before day’s play. But that silence was somber and had sadness in essence. Phil Hughes tragic death meant that everything took a backseat as the cricket world came together to mourn the loss of a young talent. Pakistan and New Zealand had the tough task of venturing onto the field of play, to mark the resumption of Test cricket. Playing the sport was the last thing on their minds! Their hearts went out to their fellow batsman who lost his life playing the game they loved. Lining up their bats and caps in front of the dressing room, Hughes was remembered by both sides.

While there have been a few players in the past, who passed away due to injuries sustained on the field of play, Hughes’ death was closer and came as a body blow for the cricketing community. Here was a young batsman, at the peak of his physical condition, fully protected and with a potential bright future ahead. So many times, we have seen batsmen get hit on the head, brush it off, recover in some time and face again. We had become all too familiar with that sight and perhaps had taken the modern safety standards for granted. Hughes wasn’t so lucky and that realization has shocked the world.

That very realization was so evident during the first session in Sharjah. Brendon McCullum did not summon any short-leg fielders, neither did his seamers bowl any bouncer. Wickets weren’t celebrated with the usual enthusiasm, even though they were big scalps of Misbah-ul-Haq, Mohammad Hafeez and Sarfaraz Ahmed. Pakistan collapsed in those circumstances. The players looked dazed following the sad turn of events. A few of them couldn’t hold back their emotions. Those mighty figures on the field are human after all.

However, life must go on! While cricket will remember Hughes and his achievements, the sport will move forward. As the Test continued, one could sense the gradual shedding of those inhibitions as the players were focused on the task at hand. The intensity levels rose and they started putting in their best efforts. Brendon McCullum should be given a lot of credit for that. His natural, entertaining strokeplay brought a smile to your face in the grim backdrop. You could take your mind off the sorrow and enjoy a breathtaking display of batting.

In many ways, McCullum and Kane Williamson’s partnership was a tribute to the fearless Hughes. Both played with that attacking intent and latched on any delivery off-line. You couldn’t help but take your mind back to Durban 2009, when a 20-year-old took on the might of Dale Steyn and company. Comparisons are fallacious of course, but your mind did reminisce that display of youthful exuberance. By the end of day’s play, it was almost business as usual, with New Zealand taking control of the game. A tough day was done and dusted as the sun set in Sharjah.

The Duke of Dorset famously said, “What is human life but a game of cricket?” How true is it? The whole community struggled to get going following the tragic death, but as it is often said: life goes on. The second day’s play mirrored those emotions.

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and anchor for the site’s YouTube Channel. His Twitter handle is @nishad_45)