30 Nov 2014

Hughes' number 64 retired

6:43 am on 30 November 2014

Cricket Australia has retired playing number 64 worn by the late batsman Phillip Hughes.

Hughes died on Thursday after being struck by a bouncer in Sydney.

Phil Hughes at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton, 2013

Phil Hughes at The Ageas Bowl, Southampton, 2013 Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Australian captain Michael Clarke made an emotional statement on behalf his team and its support staff on Saturday in which he promised to honour Hughes' memory.

Fighting back the tears, Clarke detailed the deep pain enveloping the Australian cricket side, as they mourn the death of their close friend.

"Words cannot express the loss we all feel as a team," he started.

The visibly distraught skipper struggled to get the words out and regularly took breaks to compose himself.

"To Greg, Virginia, Jason and Megan (Hughes' family), we share in the deep pain that you're feeling," Clarke said.

"Apart from when he was home on the farm with his beloved cattle, Hughesy was at his happiest playing cricket for his country with his mates.

"Things were always put in perspective when Hughesy said 'where else would you rather be boys, but playing cricket for your country?'.

"We're going to miss that cheeky grin and that twinkle in his eye.

"The world lost one of its great blokes this week and we are all poorer for it."

"Last night, I asked Cricket Australia if Hughesy's Australian one-day international shirt, number 64, could be retired - to which they agreed."

"Our promise to Hughesy's family is that we will do everything we can to honour his memory," Clarke said.

Clarke added that Hughes' legacy of "trying to improve each and every day will drive us for the rest of our lives".

"We'd like to thank everyone here and overseas for the touching tributes to Hughesy in recent days," he said.

"Our dressing room will never be the same. We loved him and always will.

"Rest in peace bruzzy."

Clarke's emotional words came as cricketers around Australia started taking the field on a sombre Saturday.

Grade cricket in Sydney and Adelaide, the two cities where Hughes plied his trade as a professional cricketer, was cancelled.

But club and school games otherwise largely went ahead as planned, with the cricket community continuing to grieve the shock death of Hughes.

Players - young and old - donned black armbands and stood for 63 seconds of silence at matches around Australia.

Cricket Australia asked that the mandatory retirement score for junior players be lifted from the traditional 50 to 63.

Hughes was unbeaten on 63 batting for South Australia on Tuesday when he played his last stroke.

The left-hander was Australia's 408th Test player and the number has been painted on cricket fields around the country.

Tributes continue to flow from around the world, with The Queen sending a private message of condolence to the Hughes family.

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