Evocative Phillip Hughes tribute columns from Ricky Ponting and South Australian coach Darren Berry have been published in the media today.
Ponting recalled Hughes’ maiden Test tour, when the 20-year-old scored a century in each innings against a star-studded South African attack.
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“Dale (Steyn), Morne Morkel and Makhaya Ntini can be pretty threatening and they were going hard with the ball and a bit of verbal,” Ponting wrote in The Australian.
“I thought I’d better go down there and check how he was but, before I got there, he looked up and grinned at me.
“I’m absolutely loving this, he said.”
Ponting, Australian skipper when Hughes made his Test debut, was among the many past and present cricketers to visit the 25-year-old on the day he died.
“It’s been hard to smile this week,” he wrote.
“But when we were at the hospital, there were a lot of stories told and they cheered me up.”
Ponting revealed another touching tale about the “country boy … (who) wasn’t too familiar with the ways of the world”.
“He stuffed up big time in England on his first trip there,” he wrote.
“He just kept using his Australian mobile to roam the internet, make calls.
“I can’t remember if his bill was $26,000 or $36,000 but I know it was so much that he had to work it off by doing commercial appearances for the phone company.
“I wish I could pick up the phone and give him a call now.”
Berry detailed why the “little batsman with the big heart” was so universally loved.
“His impact in our dressing room in a short space of time was enormous,” Berry wrote of Hughes, who shifted to Adelaide in 2012.
“He was a great role model for our young team.
“He was a charming, cheeky larrikin and someone who taught all of us plenty.”