Let's make the 13th man a tribute to cricket, not just Phillip Hughes

By Dennis Freedman

It has been a horrible week in cricket.

The tragic death of Phillip Hughes has brought out a human side of the sport that many would argue was beginning to be lost.Much has been written about how we, as a community, responded to this news. Those with cricket bats participated in the #putoutyourbat phenomenon that only the power of social media is able to fuel. Journalists wrote pieces, poems and stories.

We all watched with a tear in our eye as David Warner played the innings of his life on the first day at Adelaide. We clapped his 50 and stood for his 100.

 Lets make the 13th man a tribute to cricket, not just Phillip Hughes

A touching tribute to Phillip Hughes could make a fantastic cricket tradition. Getty Sports

However, we really connected with him when he reached 63 Not Out. A tragic mixture of pain, relief, tribute, celebration, sadness and confusion.

All of these things are potentially not repeatable. They may only appear again should another tragedy jumps us like a robber in the night.

But what if we could take just one of these forms of cricketing reflection and inject it into the culture of our game? What if we could use this terrible event and harness something good and great from it?

I believe we can.

Perhaps the greatest of all the things that has happened this past week was that Phillip Hughes appeared on the Australian team sheet.

13th man.

A slightly unusual position for sure, but still an integral part of the group. Hughes would be there with them. This tribute is the greatest. It signals that Phillip is still required. His name is on the scoreboard. He can provide inspiration. He will share the ups and downs.

So I challenge us to find a reason to make the 13th man an ongoing tradition.

Let the position honour our heroes. Let every Test match team sheet revel in the name of a legend. It needn't be a fallen one. For example, Australian Test matches played at the MCG should have 13th men such as Lillee and Warne and Ponting. Men who have made Boxing Day special for millions of local fans.

When India get to Melbourne, their 13th man should be Kapil or Sunny. At next year's Ashes in the UK, we could honour Steve Waugh and Benaud, Vaughan and Larwood.

Imagine an Indian Team playing Pakistan in Mumbai with Tendulkar on the team sheet. Pakistan could counter with Miandad.

The opportunity it brings to relive brilliance of moment and performance is too precious a gift to be discarded.

A nation maybe plays 10 or so Tests a year. Finding 10 or so legends to be part of the team is not hard.

13th man.

Let's make it more than just a tribute to Phillip Hughes. Let's make it a tribute to the game.

Like what you read? You can tweet your appreciation to @DennisCricket_ or check out his website at dennisdoescricket.com.

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Updated Date: Dec 09, 2014 19:50:50 IST