Since I first saw him bat on his Test debut, through his twin tons and through all the peaks and troughs, he has been one of my favourite players. The way he played the game was always exemplary, as was the way he conducted his life off the field. He was quiet, understated, and talented; exactly the kind of player and the kind of human being that you want to succeed.
And also spare a thought for Sean Abbott. Younger even than Hughes, he will now have to live his life in the knowledge that such a man died at his hand. Abbott was of course completely blameless, a young international cricketer simply doing his job to the best of his ability - digging the ball into the pitch in the search of an elusive wicket, he had no way of knowing that a one in a billion accident was about to unfold.
It could have happened to anyone. I've experienced both sides of the situation; I've had a cricket ball lodged in the grille of my helmet, and been bounced in poor light by someone genuinely trying to hurt me. Similarly, I've bowled bouncers in my time, one of which hit the batsman on the back of his head mere inches from the spot which killed Hughes. Fortunately, this batsman's helmet saved him.
That is the most horribly shocking aspect of all this news - the relatability of it all. The victims (because both Abbott and Hughes, as well as everyone else present, are victims in this story) could have been anyone, from any level of cricket. It could have been me, on either side; it could have been almost anyone that I've played with or against. It's a cruel, random and tragic reminder of the dangers of the game we love.
Rest in peace, Phillip Joel Hughes.