Phillip Hughes made his debut in the New South Wales state side as a precociously talented 18-year-old, with quick hands and a sharp eye. He had an off-side-dominated game honed at his family's Macksville home on the state's mid north coast.
Hughes had moved to Sydney at 17 and joined Western Suburbs Cricket Club, where he first met and played alongside Michael Clarke.
Phillip Hughes scored 51 in his first-class debut against Tasmania, November 2007 // Getty Images
By 19, he was firmly entrenched in the NSW Blues side as an opening batsman under the captaincy of Simon Katich. He became the youngest player to score a century in a Sheffield Shield final, making 116 in the second innings against Victoria in the 2007-08 Pura Cup final.
Hughes leaps into the air upon reaching a century in the 2008 Pura Cup final // Getty Images
Captain and mentor, Simon Katich was at the crease to congratulate the teenage sensation // Getty Images
In February 2009, after another prolific year in domestic first-class cricket, Hughes was named the Bradman Young Player of the Year at the Allan Border Medal ceremony.
Four centuries and 891 runs at 74.68 in 2008-009 won Hughes recognition at the Allan Border Medal // Getty Images
Such numbers proved impossible to ignore for Australia's selectors, who named him in the squad to tour South Africa in February and March of that year as the opener tasked with replacing the recently retired Matthew Hayden.
A portrait shoot of Hughes was taken ahead of his Test debut // Getty Images
Hughes made his debut in Johannesburg, shaking as he presented with Baggy Green No.408 by skipper Ricky Ponting as one of three debutants in the match. He made a four-ball duck in the first innings but rebounded to score 75 in his second dig.
Hughes (centre) made his Test debut alongside Marcus North and Ben Hilfenhaus // Getty Images
His debut at the Wanderers stadium was a baptism of fire for the 20-year-old facing Steyn, Ntini and Morkel // Getty Images
Hughes and his father Greg in the change rooms after Australia's 162-run Test victory // Getty Images
The next Test, in Durban, was history in the making. The South Africans thought Hughes had a short-ball weakness, but he turned it into a strength and used the pace of the Proteas attack against them.
Hughes celebrates as he reaches 100 through the leg side in Durban // Getty Images
Hughes brought up his maiden Test century in his third Test innings, and followed it up with a brilliant 160 in the second.
At 20 years, three months and nine days old, he became the youngest to record a century in both innings of a Test, a record he still holds.
Michael Clarke has a pat on the back for his mate at stumps on day three, with Hughes on 136 // Getty Images
That winter took Hughes to England where he played the season with Middlesex in the County Championship second division.
In five innings across three matches, Hughes scored and incredible three centuries and two half-centuries. He racked up 574 runs at 143.5 and a high score of 195.
Hughes walks out the Lord's pavilion on his county cricket debut for Middlesex // Getty Images
A dream for every Australian cricketer, Hughes played in his first Ashes series in 2009, but a barrage of short-pitched bowling would bring a premature end to his series.
Andrew Flintoff celebrates the wicket of Phillip Hughes in Cardiff as the opener endured a torrid tour, dropped after two Tests // Getty Images
Hughes would taste team success early in his career as part of the NSW Blues team that took out the 2009 Champions League T20 tournament. He starred with the bat alongside close friend and fellow opener David Warner, with both batsmen scoring more than 200 runs in the competition.
The thrill of victory. Hughes celebrates the 2009 CLT20 win in India with NSW.
Hughes played his first Test on Australian soil in Sydney against Pakistan. Like his debut innings abroad, he scored a first-innings duck
Home turf. Hughes heading to the SCG middle in front of friends and family for the first time in Test cricket // Getty Images
Chasing 106 to win the first Test against New Zealand in Wellington, Hughes smashed 86 from 75 balls to propel Australia to an emphatic 10-wicket win.
Hughes salutes in Wellington after blazing his way to a half-century off only 43 balls // Getty Images
In front of 84,345 fans, Hughes’s first Boxing Day Test in 2010 ended on a sour note in a forgettable 2010-11 Ashes series. Australia lost in Melbourne by an innings and 157 runs after being rolled for 98 on day one.
Tough day at the office. Hughes walked on to the MCG with Shane Watson, the man who replaced him 18 months earlier // Getty Images
Four years after becoming the youngest player to score a century in a Shield final, Hughes would post another Shield final ton, this time on a seaming green track against Tasmania in Hobart.
Jumping for joy. Hughes celebrates his century on the first day of the 2010-11 Sheffield Shield final, going on to make 138 // Getty Images
Under pressure again after a lean series opening the batting in Sri Lanka, Hughes scored a match-saving century in the third Test in Colombo to see Australia draw the match and hand Michael Clarke a win in his first series as captain.
Alongside former captain Ricky Ponting, Hughes raises his bat for his third Test century and his first against Sri Lanka, in Colombo. // AFP
A week after the Cape Town capitulation that saw Australia bowled out for 47 at the hands of hosts South Africa, Hughes played a starring role in the epic second Test win at the Wanderers, Johannesburg.
Combining for 174 with opening partner Watson, the pair each scored 88 to set up a first innings lead before man of the match Pat Cummins took six wickets and hit the winning runs to record a thrilling two-wicket win.
Hughes up on tiptoes playing through his favoured off-side against the Proteas // Getty Images
An injury to Watson presented Hughes a familiar face for a new opening partner in Warner, making his Test debut for the two-Test series against New Zealand in late 2011.
But the series would his last for 12 months, dropped for the third time in his short career after a series of low scores.
All-out assault. Hughes and Warner in their first Test series together. However, Hughes would fall caught Guptill, bowled Martin four times in two Tests to lose his place // Getty Images
Hughes would return to English County cricket in 2012, this time with division one outfit Worcester.
The left-hander would go on to make 560 runs and score two centuries in first-class cricket, but it would be in the limited-overs competitions where Hughes would really shine, averaging 81 in one-day cricket, and was the leading run-scorer in the T20 tournament with an incredible average of 100.50.
Hughes was unstoppable against the white ball for Worcester in 2012 // Getty Images
Hughes moved to South Australia for the 2012-13 Sheffield Shield season, and the change of badge on his heldmet did nothing to dampen his prolific run-scoring – 95 and 83 on debut against Queensland at the Gabba.
New uniform, same result, Phillip Hughes raises his bat on his West End Redbacks debut // Getty Images
His move to South Australia also meant turning out for KFC T20 Big Bash League club Adelaide Strikers, scoring two fifties as the men in blue narrowly missed the finals.
Hughes on the sweep for the Strikers against the Perth Scorchers in BBL|02 // Getty Images
Almost a year after being dropped, Hughes, on the back of 158 for South Australia at the MCG, returned to the Test team to take on Sri Lanka in the 2012-13 summer.
He would miss out on that elusive fourth Test ton twice, grabbing a pair of 80s in his 243 runs for the series.
Big smiles in nets at Hobart, 2012, as he is recalled to the Test team // Getty Images
Multi-talented, Phil Hughes kept wicket for Australia while regular gloveman Matthew Wade bowled // Getty Images
Back in front of his home crowd at the SCG, Hughes scored the dreaded 87 against Sri Lanka in January 2013 // Getty Images
His domestic one-day form was not overlooked, picked for the five-match home ODI series against Sri Lanka, with Hughes vindicating his selection by becoming the first Australian to score a century on ODI debut. He would add another hundred, 138, in the fifth ODI in Hobart 12 days later.
Hughes basking in the applause of the MCG faithful after becoming the first Australian to score an ODI century on debut // Getty Images
With more than 1,100 runs across all three formats, Hughes was named Australia’s Domestic Player of the Year at the 2013 Allan Border Medal awards night, receiving 33.80 per cent of the player votes.
Hughes collects the 2012-13 Domestic Player of Year award, the second time he was honoured at an AB Medal ceremony // Getty Images
Australia’s next Test tour would take them to the Indian subcontinent where Hughes and his teammates struggled against the local spin and hostile wickets.
Over the course of the four matches, Hughes’s hard work off the field started to show on it, significantly contributing in the last two Tests, scoring a half-century in the third Test in Mohali.
A month after the tour of India, Hughes was named in the 16-man squad for the 2013 Ashes series.
In the first Test at Trent Bridge, he would again enter the record books, this time with 19-year-old debutant Ashton Agar as the pair combined for the highest 10th wicket partnership in Test history.
Training ground laughs with James Pattinson and David Warner ahead of Ashes 2013 // Getty Images
Applauding Ashton Agar off the pitch, who fell for 98 on debut, while Hughes remained unbeaten on 81 // Getty Images
However, one Test later at Lord’s, Hughes could only manage a single in each innings in what would be his last appearance in a Baggy Green for Australia.
As he had done so many times before, Hughes returned to first-class cricket and piled on the runs, scoring his maiden double-century against Western Australia in November 2013.
Double-ton of fun. An elated Hughes celebrated his maiden first-class double-hundred // Getty Images
Hughes would once again post Bradman-like numbers, this time for Australia A against the touring India A and South Africa A in the 2014 winter.
He would become the first man in Australian domestic cricket to score 200 in a 50 over one-day game, before scoring his second first-class double-century with a commanding 243 not out against South Africa A in Townsville.
Across the Australia A series in mid 2014, Hughes would score three hundreds and two fifties for a total of 756 runs at an average of 108 // Getty Images
Hughes would remain the back-up man throughout the tour of the UAE should a spot open up, but never wanted to take the place of a dropped teammate.
Through thick and thin, Hughes never lost that cheeky smile // Getty Images
Until the very end, Phillip Hughes was doing what Phillip Hughes did best – compiling runs in his own unique fashion. His final innings finished 63 not out.