In a piece for The Sunday Telegraph, Clarke celebrated Hughes’s 26th birthday by reflecting on his life on and off the field, describing him as “one of life’s true characters and gentlemen”.
“His cricketing achievements – of which there were many – really play second fiddle to the human qualities that he exhibited,” Clarke wrote.
“Loyal to a fault, eternally optimistic, kind hearted, wicked sense of humour, a child like verve for life … I really could go on and on.
“I met him as a boy of 17, when he came down to Sydney from Macksville to play for my club Western Suburbs.
“I was drawn to him instantly, falling for his cheeky grin and love of life. Phillip truly was uncomplicated – what you saw was what you got.”
Mamamia’s gallery of the touching photos shared by Michael Clarke on his Instagram yesterday (post continues after gallery):
Clarke talked of Hughes’s country upbringing, describing his parents Greg and Virginia as “salt of the earth Aussies”, and recounted his love of life on the farm.
” I remember the last time we batted together. We would meet in the middle of the pitch and I would be asking him whether the ball was moving in the air or off the deck,” Clarke remembered.
“All he could do was talk about his cattle. What that man didn’t know about cows wasn’t worth knowing.
“He was a world champion at expressing the smallest facts about Black Angus in particular. He loved them so much he was trying to convince me to run a herd of them on my own farm.”
Hughes spent much of his career fighting to regain or retain his place in the Australian Test side, but Clarke praised his resilience and humility, saying he was “as mentally tough as they came”.
“If he had a tough conversation with a selector he would nod, agree he needed to work harder, grin because he felt bad for the person delivering the message and then get on with it.
“You knew deep down he was shattered because playing cricket for his country meant everything to him.