Toohey pays tribute to former great at NSW CHS tournament
IT was a moment Damian Toohey will never forget.
A young unknown cricketer, small in statue, arrived at the crease, took guard, and in the blink of an eye, smashed five-fours to the square-leg boundary.
Toohey has been the NSW CHS cricket convener since 2001 and has witnessed plenty of rising stars, but no one comes close to the kid from Macksville and former Australian Test opener, Phillip Hughes.
"I remember Phil coming to his first CHS carnival as a fourteen year old and he was only in year eight,” Toohey recalled.
"He made forty runs and everyone said geez...have a look at this kid.
"The second year he made the NSW fifteens. We had trials at Gordon and one of the coaches had his gun opening bowler open up against Phil.
"Phil hit him for five fours in a row and the coach raced up to me at the end of the over and said please get him (Hughes) off he's going to hit our bowler out of the team.”
According to Toohey, Hughes was a special player, who's brilliant, yet unorthodox stroke play was not what you would read in the coaching manual.
"He could hit anything through point, that was his style. Sometimes the most unorthodox batsman are the most difficult to get out,” he said.
"Take Steve Smith for example, he also has his own batting style. Sometimes as coaches we go too far in trying to teach them correct technique.
"We try to teach everyone to bat like Greg Chappell and it doesn't need to happen.”
As a sign of respect to Phillip Hughes, who tragically lost his life playing the game he loved, Toohey orgainsed shirts for coaches and managers to wear during the NSWCHS four-day carnival in Grafton this week.
"We decided to get the shirts made up with the number 408 on the front (Hughes' Test number) to remember Phil. Not a day goes by when we don't think about him,” Toohey said.
Toohey added he was also impressed with the CHS championships, which is being held in Grafton for the first time.
"It's a great opportunity to come to such a beautiful setting. The wickets are fantastic and locals have been unbelievable,” he said.
"Just take Tony Blanch for instance. He's the curator of three turf wickets and is also umpiring every day...you don't get that anywhere else.”
On the final day of the tournament today, sides will come together for positional play-offs..