Thousands gather to bid cricketer Phillip Hughes adieu at his funeral in Macksville

Funeral

Macksville(Australia), Dec 3: Funeral service of departed cricketer Phillip Hughes is joined by Australia captain Michael Clarke and the rest of the test squad along with former and current players from around the world.

The funeral for Phillip at his hometown of Mackville turned into a celebration of his life on Wednesday despite the grief and sorrow still evident from his death.

According to an agency report, Clarke was a pallbearer and spoke at the funeral service held at the Macksville Recreation Centre and which opened to the song “Forever Young” by Youth Group.

The service closed with Elton John’s “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” the same song the famous entertainer and avid cricket fan performed at a concert last weekend in Germany in tribute to Hughes.

Hughes died last Thursday, aged 25, after being hit near the ear by a ball during a match at the Sydney Cricket Ground. His 26th birthday would have been Sunday.

In steaming temperatures of nearly 30 Celsius (85F) early arrivals to the service, including Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, fanned themselves with papers. Most of those who wore sports jackets and blazers had taken them off, some with sleeves of their white shirts rolled up to their elbows.

At the front of the hall, near the altar for the Roman Catholic service, was Hughes’ oak brown casket. Flowers and cricket bats, one with his test cap on the handle, were nearby.

Leading the service, which included a video tribute, Father Michael Alcock remembered the batsman as a “shining light.”

The priest reportedly said: “In his short time he walked as a child of the light, not in an ostentatious way but in a natural, unassuming and passionate way.”

Clarke, who has described Hughes as the brother he never had, broke down frequently last weekend at the SCG when he first commented on his close friend’s death.

On Wednesday, he took several deep breaths before he began his remarks at the funeral, saying Hughes would “definitely call me a sook right now.”

“I don’t know about you, but I keep looking for him,” Clarke said. “I want to see his face pop up around the corner.

“I can see how he has touched so many people around the world … so rest in peace my little brother, see you out in the middle.”

The funeral was broadcast live around Australia on commercial television stations and on video screens at the Adelaide Oval, where the rescheduled first test with India will start next Tuesday, and the SCG, where a row of 63 bats were propped up against pickets, each with an inscription of a special moment of Hughes’ career.

Among those to send their condolence messages was West Indies great Viv Richards, who posted on Twitter: “My heart goes out to the family, friends & the people of Macksville honouring their favourite son Phillip today. Viv.”

Commemoration ceremonies for Hughes were held in Rome, where the Vatican’s cricket team held a memorial Mass. Vatican team captain, the Rev. Anthony Currer, presided over the Tuesday evening service at the Venerable English College, a seminary in Rome. He said the team wanted to show its closeness to Hughes’ family “bringing his life before God and bring it to our prayer.”

(With AP Inputs)

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