India in Australia 2011-12 December 9, 2011

Hughes faces fight to keep opener's slot

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The axe may be hanging over Phillip Hughes after another Test failure, but he has been given a chance to save his spot ahead of the Boxing Day Test. Hughes will face the Indians in the second of their tour matches against the Cricket Australia Chairman's XI in Canberra, a week before the Melbourne Test. But he won't be the only top-order batsman aiming to impress.

David Warner will also play in the three-day match starting on December 19, as will Shaun Marsh, who is hoping to prove his fitness after battling a back injury over the past month. If that wasn't a tasty enough prospect, Usman Khawaja is also in the side, meaning the top four batsmen will all be desperate to secure places in a Test side likely to welcome Shane Watson back from injury.

And Ed Cowan, the most in-form opener in the country after scoring three hundreds in his previous three first-class games, will captain a different Chairman's XI side against the Indians on December 15 and 16. It all means immense pressure will be on Hughes, who will have to find a way to handle Ishant Sharma, the fast bowler who will angle the ball across him.

It is a method that Chris Martin has used to great effect in the current series. There was a sense of inevitability about watching Hughes face Martin on the first day in Hobart. Four slips. Two gullies. The leg side was all but vacant. The plan was obvious, and Hughes obliged. His only scoring shot split them all and ran away to the boundary behind point.

The delivery that eventually accounted for Hughes was one he could have, and should have left. He did not flash at it in an attempt to clear the cordon. He poked the bat out tamely and edged to second slip, for the third time in the series walking off with a score of 10 or less and "c Guptill b Martin" next to his name.

After New Zealand struggled to 150 in their first innings, there is no guarantee Hughes will bat again in the match. It makes the three-day encounter against the Indians critical to his chances of playing on Boxing Day. Warner will captain the side for that game, which will also feature the former Test bowlers Trent Copeland, Doug Bollinger and Peter George.

"The two Cricket Australia Chairman's XI games against India provide opportunities for many of our promising young players to display their talents and to gain experience against some legendary Indian players," John Inverarity, the national selector, said. "In the second of these two Cricket Australia Chairman's XI matches a number of players in contention for the Boxing Day Test squad will have the opportunity to press their claims. In the second game, Shaun Marsh will be making his return from injury."

CA Chairman's XI squad (December 15-16) Ed Cowan (capt), Wes Robinson, Joe Burns, Tom Cooper, Alex Doolan, Glenn Maxwell, Tim Ludeman (wk), Joe Mennie, Jake Haberfield, Josh Lalor, Peter George, Dean Solway.

CA Chairman's XI squad (December 19-21) David Warner (capt), Phillip Hughes, Shaun Marsh, Usman Khawaja, Tom Cooper, Alex Doolan, Tim Ludeman (wk), Trent Copeland, Cameron Boyce, Josh Lalor, Doug Bollinger, Peter George.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • satish619chandar on December 13, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    Good squad for the probable replacements.. They could well have put Watto in a practice game.. Hope none gets injured from both the sides..

  • dummy4fb on December 12, 2011, 5:04 GMT

    The problem with Australian cricket is Clarke. The captain should never be a selector and especially not one who picks mates. Every player deserves a few chances to settle in to Test cricket but really, how many failures does Hughes have to make before he is dropped. He has had too many opportunities and has proved to be a dismal flop with inadequate technique. We need class players with talent and decent techniques such as Watson and Marsh back into the team. Congratulations to Warner for his initial Test century in exceptionally difficult conditions and to New Zealand for a great victory.

  • smudgeon on December 12, 2011, 1:10 GMT

    RoJayao - well said. Only thing I'd quibble about is that Butterworth is more than a servicable state cricketer, but we all have our opinions!

  • RightArmEverything on December 11, 2011, 23:17 GMT

    @Matt Jensen, you do (have sense that is). I think you're spot on about the point of these teams and your comments about Rogers (and Hodge). Fine players but just unlucky and selectors are looking for players who will be around for while.

  • GMFoley on December 11, 2011, 22:44 GMT

    Dean Solway is the next most likely Canberran to play Shield cricket somewhere- son of the second best cricketer the Canberra region has produced. Should be better than Tom Thornton, who's just starting out at SA.

    It's a similar selection to that of the spot reserved in the PM's X1 for the local player.

  • dummy4fb on December 11, 2011, 9:46 GMT

    Who is Dean Solway??????????

  • dummy4fb on December 11, 2011, 9:44 GMT

    @Ashwin Chandru - Jaques wasn't discarded. He had back surgery two or three years ago (a marriage break up as well) & has never been the player he was since. He was a favourite of mine, but he is nowhere near Test selection!

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on December 11, 2011, 7:13 GMT

    If possible, Aussies should cut down on the number of lefties in their team in order to reduce the threat posed by Zaheer Khan. Too many lefties - Warner, Hughes, Khawaja, Hussey, Pattinson, Starc - more than half the team....

  • RoJayao on December 11, 2011, 5:10 GMT

    I can't figure out the continued bleating about the selectors this season, they are doing a much, much better job already than the previous clowns. They've already blooded Copeland, Lyon, Warner, Pattinson, Starc and Cummins in the space of the last half dozen matches and some have had success. What more do you armchair critics want?? Did it occur to you people at all that one of the reasons some of the rookies are doing well is that they have had experienced players around them?! The Australian cricket team is not a proving ground for promising state players, it's the ultimate for the best. Serviceable state players like Butterworth, Faulkner, Birt, McDonald etc are NOT the best of the best. Promising players like O'Keefe and Wade simply have to wait their turn and keep performing. Cowan's turn is hopefully Boxing day and he'd replace an out of form young guy with an in form young guy and that's what you want, not the wholesale changes you uneducated watchers demand!

  • RandyOZ on December 11, 2011, 2:57 GMT

    Either of these sides will teach India how to play cricket. Looking forward to seeing George rip through their batting.

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