Melbourne: Former captain Ricky Ponting has paid glowing tributes to deceased Australian cricketer Phillip Hughes, describing him as someone who enjoyed challenging situations and said he saw a streak of daring in his batting like legendary Adam Gilchrist.
"I didn't really know him when he joined us on South Africa tour in 2009, but I knew he was going to open batting in first Test and I went out of my way to talk and spend time with him .. I tried to get as close as I could," Ponting said.
"He was a really impressive young guy. He wanted to learn and he had that respect that you find in a lot of country kids and he listened closely. The thing that made my job easy was that he was just so likable," Ponting wrote in his column for 'The Australian'.
Ponting said that he has never been more impressed by a young cricketer than Hughes.
"South Africa had a pretty fair bowling attack, but it was not long until he was hitting them to all parts of the ground. You could see they really were surprised by his unusual strokes and you have to remember that for a little bloke, he could really belt the ball. A 20-year-old on debut is not supposed to hit Dale Steyn back over his head, but that's what he did," the former captain wrote.
"He took it up a notch in the Durban Test. There were shades of Gilchrist in the way he cut and plundered bowling there. I had seen Gilly do the same thing at that ground, but not many other people can get away with that sort of batting.
"In second innings when he got 160 I can tell you the bowlers were into him big time. Dale, Morne Morkel and Makhaya Ntini were going hard with the ball and a bit of verbal. I thought I'd better go down and check how he was, but before I got there he looked up and grinned at me 'I'm absolutely loving this'," said Ponting.
Hughes, 25, succumbed to his injuries on Thursday at a hospital in Sydney where he was battling for life after being hit by a bouncer from Sean Abbott during a domestic match between South Australia and New South Wales on Tuesday.