'Words can't express our loss'

Teary-eyed Clarke pays tribute to his friend CA retires Hughes' No 64 jersey

'Words can't express our loss'

Captain Michael Clarke gave a graphic illustration of the raw emotions of the Australia team when he broke down repeatedly while paying tribute to former team-mate Phillip Hughes on Saturday.

Making no mention of next week's Test match against India, Clarke battled to hold back tears as he read out a statement on behalf of the players at the Sydney Cricket Ground, where Hughes suffered his fatal injury on Tuesday.

Hughes, 25, died on Thursday as the result of a catastrophic injury he sustained when struck on the head by a ball during a domestic match, triggering a wave of mourning in Australia and around the world.

"Words cannot express the loss we feel as a team right now," Clarke said. "We are going to miss that cheeky grin and that twinkle in his eye. He epitomised what the baggy green was about and what it means to us all.

"The world lost one of its great blokes this week and we are all poorer for it."
Clarke, widely praised for the role he has played in comforting his friend and former team-mate's family, said the players had requested that Cricket Australia retire Hughes' one-day international number, 64.

"They agreed. That means so much," he added. "His legacy of trying to improve each and every day will drive us for the rest of our lives.

"Our dressing room will never be the same. We loved him and always will. Rest in peace, bruzzy."

Meanwhile, former captain Ricky Ponting does not think it would be right for Australia's first Test against India in Brisbane next week to go ahead following the death of Hughes.
"It's one thing to say Phillip Hughes would have wanted the four-Test series against India to start as scheduled," he wrote in a column for News Limited newspapers on Saturday.

"It's another for 11 men to take the field at the Gabba a week after their close friend died. 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. In fact I don't think it would be right.”

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