Dressing room will never be same without Hughes: Michael Clarke

  • AP, Sydney
  • Updated: Nov 30, 2014 13:28 IST

Australia cricket captain Michael Clarke wiped away tears as he spoke on Saturday of the effect Phillip Hughes' death has had on the team, as speculation continued as to whether next week's first Test against India will be called off.

Clarke had to stop to compose himself several times as he spoke at the Sydney Cricket Ground of how Hughes' legacy of "trying to improve each and every day will drive us for the rest of our lives."

Hughes died on Thursday, two days after being hit in the head by a bouncer during a domestic match at the SCG.

Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting says the India match scheduled to begin on Thursday should not go ahead, but Hughes' family is reported to want it to be played.

Clarke read a statement that lasted about three minutes on behalf of the national team and support staff.

"To Greg, Virginia, Jason and Megan (Hughes' family), we share in the deep pain that you're feeling," Clarke said.

"Our promise to Hughesy's family is that we will do everything we can to honor his memory. Last night, I asked Cricket Australia if Hughesy's Australian one-day international shirt, number 64, could be retired - to which they agreed."

Since Tuesday's incident, Clarke had rarely left the Sydney hospital that the 25-year-old Hughes, his close friend, was taken to for surgery.

"Things were always put in perspective when Hughesy said 'where else would you rather be boys, but playing cricket for your country?'. We're going to miss that cheeky grin and that twinkle in his eye. The world lost one of its great blokes this week and we are all poorer for it."

Ponting, who is still very close to the team, said on Saturday that the first Test against India should be called off or postponed.

"It's been such a tragic week for the Hughes family and the cricket community and I can't imagine how anybody can be expected to play Test cricket on Thursday," Ponting wrote in a News Corp. Australia column.

"I don't think it would be right. Even if the boys think they can play, it would be a miracle if they find the right frame of mind needed for five days of cricket."

Hughes' family is reported to want it to go ahead, but possibly not playing the first session on Thursday morning and instead placing a cricket bat on the Gabba pitch in his memory.

"I've heard the Hughes family are keen for that (Test) to go ahead, obviously that's going to be a question for the players," said Keith Bradshaw of the South Australian Cricket Association, the team Hughes played for.

Clarke's statement came as cricketers around Australia started taking the field on for tributes on Saturday. In Sydney and Adelaide, the two cities were Hughes played, grade cricket - the level below interstate cricket - was cancelled. But club and school games mostly went ahead as planned, with many players wearing black armbands.

Two numbers were often etched into pitches or on uniforms - 63, the run total Hughes had accrued before he was hit by the ball, and 408 - he was the 408th Test player to compete for Australia.

There were also tributes from around the world from current and former players. New Zealand, playing a test against Pakistan, etched the letters PH on their caps and refused to celebrate when wickets were claimed.

The "putoutyourbats" hashtag has been trending on Twitter as thousands around the world place a cricket bat outside their home in honour of Hughes.

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