|Source: Abhishek Mukherjee|
I am still recovering from shock of the events of last couple of days and in no mood to write a big well structured letter. So, this one will be more of a short note, a note of thanks and farewell.
Being an intense follower of the game I have heard your name at least six years back when even before making your test debut you were touted as taking the responsibility of opening for Australia after retirement of Hayden and Langer, one of the most successful opening pairs in the history of the game. Then you were selected to play your first test in 2009 after Matthew Hayden’s retirement and I faintly remembered you had a great beginning of your international career. But like the entire Australian team on this post-2007 era, your form also deviate. You were dropped. But you were there somewhere all the time. Whenever I read any article about Australian cricket in Cricinfo and other sites your name kept coming up. I remember noticing that you had made a debut hundred in ODIs (Now I know you are the only Australian to do so), I remember the controversy involving you when you tweeted about you not getting selected in the next day’s test matches before the official team announcement. May be it was an immature move in today’s sporting world of professionalism and formality but it showed your discontent in not getting selected for your country.
I remember you from your last tour of India. You were particularly unstable and struggled a lot against the Indian spinners from the beginning. But you showed wonderful grit and application to finally produce couple of good, fighting innings for a team who were getting thrashed in the ground and also involved in ‘homeworkgate’ off the fields.
All these were small memories Phill, may be ten-fifteen years down the line, I would have forget all those things but now that will not be the case. Since last Tuesday, you have become part of the Legends of this great game. You know Indians are now in Australia to play a test series, you could have been a part of that too. I was checking the scorecard of the Indian team’s practice match when I saw the news that you were hurt and taken to hospital in a very critical condition. I remembered a similar incident occurred to Nari Contractor, then Indian captain, during India’s tour of West Indies in 1962. Contractor survived, but had to left cricket at the age of 28. I thought similar fate was waiting for you and that made me sad. But little I knew I was ambitious. Yesterday, the worst possible thing happened and I was saddened beyond words.
Look Phill, I have not played cricket at any serious level. But still I think myself as a part of the cricketing fraternity of the world as a fan. I love to read about cricket, watch cricket matches of any era, between any teams and get in a cricket related discussion every day, may be at work or with my friends, my parents or my wife. And as a follower of this nobel game, I felt heartbroken for your demise.
Phill, I know I am just a cricketing muggle compared to cricketing wizards like you, who has represented their countries but I am five years older to you and it felt like a younger brother has passed away. You were so young, with so much boundless potential and opportunity to represent your country for next 10-12 years that it made everyone hurt. But still it makes me a little happy to think that you had left us while doing what you loved the most, playing cricket. I hope that there must be an Australian cricket team in heaven with Bradman and Tramper in the team. There you can resume your innings from 63 not out. As one of my friends has written in Facebook, you were retired, we are hurt.
Be well, my dear brother. Hope god takes care of you up there and once you become an angel please protect Sean Abbot, a young boy who is feeling the most terrible among all of us.
A follower of the game you loved
PS. Advance Happy Birthday Bro!