Australian captain Michael Clarke today dedicated his team’s World Cup triumph to Philip Hughes, who tragically lost his life in a freak on-field accident, saying that the late “teammate and little brother” was considered part of the squad through the tournament.
“It has been really tough few months and all the players (15 in the squad) would say we played this World Cup with 16 players. Tonight is dedicated to our little brother,” Clarke said at the post-match presentation after Australia thrashed New Zealand by seven wickets at the summit clash at the MCG.
Hughes died after being hit on his neck by a bouncer during an Australian domestic Sheffield Shield match at the Sydney Cricket Ground three days before he was to turn 26.
“Hughesy used to party as well as any of us. Tonight, we will party with one drink kept for ‘little brother’,” he said.
Clarke, who had announced that the World Cup grand finale would be his last ODI, said that he will also continue to wear the black armband on which is written PH (in the name of Philip Hughes).
“It (black armband) has got PH on it. I will wear it every time I play for Australia,” said Clarke.
Clarke, who scored a 72-ball 74 today to bow out of ODI cricket on a high, said it was right time for him to quit the shorter format of the game.
“It is the right time to walk away from one-day cricket, I’ll still be playing Test cricket,” he said.
“We’re really proud, it’s a wonderful achievement, to win in our own backyard in front of family and friends. We are like over the moon, what a tournament for us!” he added.
He also praised the New Zealand team for its strong performance in the World Cup.
“Brendon and NZ deserve a lot of credit, always a tough team to beat, whenever we play them in any sport – so well done to Baz (Brendon McCullum) and his team, especially personally, he had an amazing performance,” he said.
Asked if his ODI jersey number 23 will be retired or be given to somebody, he joked, “Might give it back to Warney. (Shane Warne). He gave it to me.
“I have not given it much thought,” he added.