Phil Hughes passed away after being struck by a bouncer in Sydney in November 2014 © Getty Images
Phil Hughes passed away after being struck by a bouncer in Sydney in November 2014 © Getty Images

It has been almost two years since Australia toured England for Ashes 2013. Phil Hughes played the first two Tests. The home series against India could have seen Hughes return to the longer formats, but we know what happened next. Sudatta Mukherjee looks back at Hughes’s final Test series, The Ashes 2013.

The Ashes are back. Seldom does a contest garner interest to the extent the quest for the urn does, with the possible exception of ICC World Cup. Both sides know the importance of the contest. It is just not about losing yet another series: it is about history, respect, love and war. For cricketers from both nations, this is all that they want to be part of — The Ashes.

There have been many cricketers whose final Test series have been the Ashes. Some have retired amidst victorious scenes. Some have walked away from the 22 yards in pain. Age have caught up with some.

Some, unfortunately, have passed away prematurely, their promising careers coming to an end before they could blossom. There was Archie Jackson, the man David Frith called The Keats of Cricket, claimed by tuberculosis. There was Ben Hollioake, taken by a car crash. There was Ross Gregory, killed in World War II. And, there was one Phillip Joel Hughes.

The Trent Bridge Test started on July 10, 2013. England elected to bat. Riding on Peter Siddle’s five-wicket haul, Australia restricted the hosts to a meagre 215. The Australians tumbled like a pack of cards in response. It was only Brad Haddin and Hughes whose partnership provided some strength before Haddin perished.

But, young Hughes held fort, remaining unbeaten on 81. While people remember Ashton Agar’s 98 on debut, they tend to ignore the at the other end. Calm, composed and astute, Hughes led Agar rejoice in the limelight. Australia walked back to only return to witness Ian Bell’s century and Stuart Broad’s half-century steer England ahead. Needing 311, Australia’s batting order could not stand up to James Anderson. Hughes walked away from the 22 yards, a duck under his name. ALSO READ: Phil Hughes and Ashton Agar’s record last-wicket stand

He was there for the second Test at Lord’s, scoring 1 in each innings. Australia needed someone better. Hughes’s final Test was at Lord’s in The Ashes. How many knew that would turn out to be his final walk?

Hughes would have played more than 26 Tests and 91 First-Class matches. He was no ordinary cricketer. He just needed time, which was not something that was on his side. He was oblivious to the fact that The Almighty had other plans. ALSO READ: Phil Hughes passes away

As we prepare ourselves for the first Test of Ashes 2015, it will be sad if we don’t remember the man whose cheeky smile lit up the darkest of the moments — a man who was beyond a cricketer, the friend, the son, the brother, the confidante, the mate.

While it would be wrong to hold on to the past and remember him as Australia wake up to a new dawn, it will unjustified to not remember Hughes, a man who fell doing what he loved the most, play cricket.

Hughesy, we still miss you.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English televison show on her laptop. Her Twitter handle is @blackrosegal)