As I write this note, I have a photo of Phillip Joel Hughes on the desk in front of me. I plan to keep it close to hand so that I can always remember the last two weeks - where through these dark days for cricket we have all been reminded of the fundamental strengths of our great game and the people who play, umpire, administer and watch it.
The tragic loss of one of our own has been incredibly hard for everyone and for some, almost impossible to bear. The tributes which have flowed from all around Australia and the world have provided wonderful testament to Phillip and the place he holds in the hearts of so many. I do not plan to eulogise Phillip in this message as there are so many who have already done so - and far more eloquently than I would be able to. Suffice to say, the outpouring of emotion, in words, spoken and written and in actions of simple yet powerful symbolism, are an amazing but absolutely fitting tribute to the man and the impact his far-too-short time on earth has had.
Over the last two weeks many people in cricket have worked tirelessly to provide support to Phillip's family, to our players and to others who have been so greatly affected. Huge effort has gone in to the important task of properly honouring the life of Phillip and his contribution to the game. There is no precedent by which this work could have been planned and yet the world would acknowledge that it has been done magnificently well.
The ACA and CA have collaborated strongly at all levels and in the most trying of circumstances to achieve these outcomes and on behalf of all members I say thank you to everyone involved. I especially want to thank all our ACA staff, lead by Alistair, Ben and Graham, for the work you have done. That work is, of course, unfinished, as the ongoing impacts are monitored and met over the coming weeks, months and years. The ACA will be there for as long as is needed to assist all those who've been impacted.
Cricket has proven itself through this terrible adversity to be truly worthy of the central role it plays in the hearts and minds of the Australian people. The loss of one of our champions has hit the entire nation very hard and this has highlighted how important our game is to the way we see ourselves collectively. Cricket is a fundamental part of the Australian narrative and Phillip's wonderful life and untimely death is now a never-to-be-forgotten chapter in that narrative.
A spotlight has been shone on cricket and cricket's people which has illuminated what we have all known but perhaps forgotten - that we are united in the love of our game, are capable of great courage and strength and can bring our individual capabilities to combine with others to work together as a formidable team.
In particular, I want to single out the current playing group and their captain. In my time in cricket I have never seen a generation of players which so perfectly embodies the spirit of the game. You have suffered the darkest of times together and found the individual and collective strength to deal with profound grief. And yet throughout, you have done the memory of your mate proud.
As this message is transmitted, cricket is returning to first class arenas around Australia. I have no doubt that my small voice of support for the players as they take the field today will be drowned out by a massive chorus of support from all cricket people across the country and the globe. As I look over once again at the photo on my desk, I am also reminded that, in fact, all Australia will be behind our cricketers - and with greater conviction, sincerity and empathy than we could ever have believed possible.
Enjoy your cricket.
Vale Phillip Joel Hughes.