Community Gathering for friends of Phillip Hughes

As chairman of our branch, I was asked to speak at a community gathering at Alstonville for all local cricket community and general public who were affected by the death of Phillip Hughes. Below is the document which I prepared for that speech. This is presented only to emphasise our branch’s commitment to the players, families and other people who have been affected by this tragic accident.

Yes, you may be able to pick holes in what I said, but rest assured that this was a message from my heart.

Stan Gilchrist, Chairman.



 Cricket is a wonderful game!

I am not going to dwell on Phillip Hughes for too long. If you want to get a really comprehensive coverage of his life, his cricket, the accident and the reaction of players and others from all over the world, get a copy of today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

But I would like to share with you a story told to me by our eldest son, Dean, who at the time was club coach for Parramatta in the Sydney Grade Cricket competition. He had nursed the Parramatta boys through to the semi-final of the Twenty20 competition, and they were playing Western Suburbs at Blacktown Oval.
It was just two days after Phillip Hughes had been dropped from the Australian team, and Phil had every reason to feel disappointed.
Sadly a large number of Parramatta lower grade players had come to the ground and were heckling Phil from a stand on the sideline, near where he was fielding. Phil didn’t respond to the abuse, but merely noted where they were.

Wests were then set a pretty tight total to chase, and Phil batted very carefully and sedately, which is unusual for him. But he knew that as wickets tumbled, he had to hold his team together.
Still the abuse rained down on him, but still he didn’t react. Until he hit the winning runs, at which point he did nothing more than point his bat straight at the offending mob. Not a word. Not any other gesture.
Dean, as the opposition coach, was able to (in his words) “admire the resolve, the determination and the ability to put aside his selection disappointment and the crap that was being directed at him and apply himself to the task at hand.”

Nelson Mandela once wrote “It’s what you do with what you’ve got, not what you were given, that separates man from man.” I find this a wonderful quote, and to me it says don’t complain about the opportunities, skills or intellectual strengths which you weren’t given, but instead focus on what you have been given and develop these to the maximum. I think Phillip Hughes did just that. He didn’t have great style, or classical technique, but boy, did he exploit and develop the skills and abilities he did have.

Yes, Phil Hughes epitomised determination and resolve, and as I have said, beg, borrow or steal a copy of today’s Herald to read some wonderful tributes from cricketers all around the world.


But what about all of you, all of us, who are feeling the pinch?

I am at present suffering just a little from a foot problem. It is affecting the way I walk, and in fact pervades my whole movements when walking, moving quickly or trying to hurry across a street to beat the traffic. One very small injury or soreness to one part of the body can carry over to many other parts and affect performance. When Brett Lee has shin splints, it affects his bowling, his batting, his fielding and almost all of his life.


So this is my message for us all today. Most parts of the body can be repaired, sometimes with the help of a trained medical person. And often when a specific part of the body is injured then repaired, that part of the body emerges stronger than ever.

We are a cricketing family, a cricketing body. When one of us suffers, then the whole body hurts. But the whole body is willing to get in and help repair the damage.

So if you are hurting, feeling sad, confused or in any way grieving for Phillip, for other traumas the memory of which have resurfaced as a result of all this, please think about what I have just said. Most parts of the body can usually be repaired, sometimes with the guidance of a professional person, or sometimes with just a close friend to guide you through this.

It is MOST acceptable to feel hurt. It is MOST acceptable to grieve. And it is most advisable to seek the counsel, the advice, the help and the love of someone else with whom you can share your hurt. Please do not let yourself be alone as you are surrounded by other parts of the cricketing body, and we all want to be healthy, relaxed and strong together. I may need help after this talk. You may need to identify if I or anyone else here needs help. If so, please help me or anyone else!

Adam rang me just before Phillip was pronounced dead. He had had the news from Ricky Ponting, whose manager was also Phillip’s manager. Adam was quite distressed. He needed to confide in someone. He wanted to talk, however briefly, about sharing, respect and trust.

And that’s what I am imploring you to do. If you are hurting, find someone that you respect and trust and share your hurt with them. They may feel the same, so you may help both them and yourself.

Finally, to parents, coaches and players. This accident was a one in a million chance. Only 100 deaths have been recorded from a blow to this part of the body ACROSS ALL SPORTS. This is the first in cricket.

Please don’t assume, or even consider, that this could happen to you. Yes it could, but so could a truck crash into this building as you walk out of here. And parents, don’t think that your daughters or sons will be injured in the next sporting contest. Yes, they could be, but there are many more dangers around than a cricket ball!

As I started with this statement, I will finish with it: Cricket is a wonderful game.