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Last Updated: Friday, 23 January, 2004, 10:49 GMT
Lehmann despair for Hookes
Darren Lehmann
There was lots of laughter with him, lots of guidance, lots of love
Lehmann on a lost friend
Australia batsman Darren Lehmann has spoken publicly for the first time since the death of his close friend and childhood idol David Hookes.

Lehmann was with Hookes when the former Test player suffered fatal head injuries in an incident at a Melbourne hotel on Sunday.

The Yorkshire player will be a key witness in the case involving a bouncer who has been charged with manslaughter.

He described Hookes' death at the age of 48 as "utterly needless".

A South Australian like Hookes, Lehmann, 33, grew up idolising the prolific batsman.

Lehmann later made a name for himself in Australian cricket and struck up a strong association with Hookes.

"He was the greatest influence on my career," Lehmann told the Australian press.

The Australia cricket team honour David Hookes
Hookes' death has reverberated throughout Australian sport

"There was lots of laughter with him, lots of guidance, lots of love. A guy I hope I can turn out to be like because he was one I admired from day one to the end.

"If I had any problems at all, I would always go and see him.

"He was the first bloke I would ring if I was having any problems whether it be cricket-wise or personal.

"He was always there, only a phone call away or around the corner, that goes for his family as well.

"It's hard to fathom you can't ring him anymore or see him. I'm going to miss him a lot."

Lehmann is refusing to speak about the events that led to Hookes' death, but will give his version "at the appropriate time in the proper forum".

The South Australia Redbacks captain admitted the tragic loss of one of Australia's favourite sons had given him a new perspective on life.

Brett Lee
I think somebody was watching and helping us for those last couple of balls
Aussie match-winner Brett Lee

"As a captain you are involved in different issues while you are out there playing and you worry about things that you have to worry about," he said.

"You worry about simple things that go wrong - what does it matter? Dropped catches, misfields, whatever it may be.

"At the end of the day they are things that really don't mean that much."

Meanwhile, Brett Lee has dedicated Australia's last-gasp VB Series win over India on Thursday to Hookes.

Lee was the surprise match-winner in Sydney, hitting a six in the last over to secure a two-wicket victory.

"The guys really wanted to do it for Hookes," Lee said. "There was a fair bit of emotion out there.

"It's been a tragic week not only for his family but the whole cricketing world.

"I think deep down somebody was watching and helping us when we were out there for those last couple of balls.

"The ball came and I shut my eyes and swung as hard as I could and the ball sailed over the fence."

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