The tragic news that Australian batsman Phillip Hughes died on Thursday has been called ‘cricket’s darkest day’.
Proteas coach Russell Domingo, along with senior players AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn have sent in tributes to the young man who would have turned 26 on Sunday.
‘It’s obviously a very sad day for the cricketing world,’ began Domingo. ‘Phil Hughes is a massive blow to the sport. He was a wonderful player, a dangerous player and always took the game to the opposition.
‘Our thoughts and prayers are obviously with his family at this sad time,’ concluded the coach.
De Villiers and Steyn experienced the best of Hughes, during his tour of South Africa, and both couldn’t speak highly enough of the talented left-hander.
‘I didn’t know Phil personally that well, but after playing against him a few times and meeting him off the field a couple times, I knew he was a true gentleman and a hell of a nice guy,’ said De Villiers.
‘He was obviously an incredible cricket player. I remember some of the knocks he played, the two hundreds he scored at Kingsmead in a Test match against us was just pure class.
‘He will be sorely missed by cricket lovers around the world. I would like to send my condolences to his family and friends through these tough times. It’s obviously a very dark period for all of them.
‘Just a quick message to Shaun Abbott as well, my prayers and thoughts are with him for staying strong through this time,’ said the Proteas ODI captain.
Steyn had suffered the most in the Test arena at the hands of Hughes, but he seemed to know him the best.
‘Some terrible news to wake up to this morning, hearing of the passing of a friend of ours,’ said Steyn.
‘The first time I remember meeting him was a few years back when he made his debut for Australia, he blitzed us all over the park.
‘The thing I remember most about him is that he was such a genuinely great guy, and always had a cheeky smile on his face.
‘More recently in Zimbabwe, he was one of the first guys to walk into the dressing room after the final match for a drink and a laugh.
‘My deepest condolences and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends, as well as Shaun. I really hope that he’s OK and for the world to know that it’s not his fault.
‘It’s a terrible, terrible day and a sad loss,’ concluded Steyn.