Former captain Mark Taylor says next week’s rescheduled first Test against India will allow Australia’s grieving cricketers to start moving on.
The entire Test team, led by captain, eulogiser and pallbearer Michael Clarke, paid their final respects to lost teammate Phillip Hughes at the opener’s emotion-charged funeral service in Macksville on Wednesday.
After a week of uncertainty following Hughes’ death last Thursday, two days after being struck in the head by a bouncer, Cricket Australia on Monday night announced the first Test of summer would be played in Adelaide from Tuesday.
“It’ll be a chance for the players in particular to move on from this,” Taylor said before Wednesday’s service.
“I also think it’s going to be difficult for them to move on and I think until they start playing cricket again they won’t actually move on.
“So I think it will be part of the healing process when they do play in Adelaide next Tuesday.”
Most of the squad was expected to spend Wednesday night in Coffs Harbour, 50km north of Macksville on the NSW mid north coast, before assembling to begin preparations for the Adelaide Test.
Cricket Australia chairman Wally Edwards praised the spirit not only of the country’s elite cricketers but an entire nation following Wednesday’s moving service in Hughes’ home town.
“It’s a very sad and sombre day for Australian cricket and indeed world cricket,” Edwards said.
“It has been a tragic accident. It’s upset us all and to see a young, talented cricketer cut down in the prime of his career is just so sad and everybody’s feeling it.”
Edwards said it was “quite remarkable” that some 5000 mourners from all parts of the world could descend on a small community of 7000 people to celebrate a young cricketer’s life.
“Cricket Australia has great gratitude to the amount of people who have come and the messages that we’ve got,” he said.
“In moments like these, when we’ve lost loved ones, it is tough.
“But we all have to work out that the world goes on and cricket will go on.
“But to see such a talented cricketer that obviously had 10 years of his best cricket still to come, it’s a great loss.
“Not only a great loss for his family and teammates but for Australian cricket.”
Edwards said Hughes had left memories on Australians that would last “for decades” and urged fans to attend the first Test en masse.
“It will be a very emotional match and hopefully everyone can get through it and put on a good show,” he said.
“I’m sure being in his home state, as it is right now, I’m sure all South Australians will want to pay tribute.”