Australia v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hobart, 4th day December 12, 2011

Hughes has to find runs - Clarke


Michael Clarke has conceded that Phillip Hughes may need to go back to state cricket to regain his form after another failure in the second innings of Australia's loss to New Zealand in Hobart. However, Clarke said it was unfortunate that there was no Sheffield Shield cricket scheduled until after the Test series against India ends in February, meaning Hughes will have nothing but Twenty20 in which to regain his touch.

Hughes walked off the field a defeated man, his weakness outside off stump having almost certainly ended this phase of his Test career, with Shaun Marsh and Shane Watson expected to return to the side on Boxing Day against India. Hughes was caught by Martin Guptill in the cordon off the bowling of Chris Martin for the fourth time in the series. Clarke said the lack of runs for Hughes - he has scored 9, 9, 88, 11, 10, 7, 4 and 20 in his past eight Test innings - was a concern.

"He's obviously really disappointed like all the batters are, the way we played today," Clarke said. "But Hughesy is probably the most disappointed. He's been getting out the same way. I know he's been working hard in the nets trying to improve that deficiency in his technique and he'll continue to work on that. But he needs to find some runs, it's as simple as that. If he's not making them for Australia he's going to have to go back and score some for New South Wales."

Besides the Big Bash League and club cricket, the only other opportunity for Hughes to score runs before the end of the Test summer will be in next week's Cricket Australia Chairman's XI match against the touring Indians in Canberra. In that three-day encounter, Hughes will be competing with other top-order men such as Marsh and Usman Khawaja, who are also in the side. David Warner is also set to play at Manuka Oval, but he has already pencilled in his name for the Boxing Day Test by carrying his bat for 123 not out in Hobart, almost conjuring victory for Australia from a dire position.

"There is no four-day cricket now for New South Wales, unfortunately," Clarke said. We go back and play Twenty20 cricket so, yeah, if that's the case for somebody, people who get dropped from this team, they're going to have to go back to Twenty20 and score some runs. I'm not sure how it's going to work but you're going to have to be picked back into the Australian team from the Big Bash. We'll wait and see what happens."

The lack of first-class cricket in Australia from early December to the start of February - covering the majority of the Australian summer - was deemed necessary by Cricket Australia to allow the new eight-team BBL to flourish. When asked if he would have preferred Shield cricket during the period, Clarke was careful not to directly criticise the scheduling, but his discontent was evident.

"Well, we've got what we've got," he said. "At the end of the day let's deal with it. My opinion is not going to change anything. It's about scoring runs in any form of the game you play. If it's Twenty20, score runs. If it's one-dayers, score runs and just continue to get your name, push your name up in front of the selectors' eyes to get selected for any form of the game. It's what we've got."

Australia play four Tests against India, beginning on December 26 at the MCG, and finishing in Adelaide on January 28. The Shield season has a major hiatus from December 9 until February 2.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on December 14, 2011, 1:02 GMT

    @Ashwin Sharma - ahh no, Dhoni likes to blame umpires or the pitch! == == == Money where my mouth is 1st Test v India - should be 1. Warner, 2. Rogers, 3. Khawaja, 4. Ponting/Hussey, 5. Clarke, 6. Watson (assuming he bowls, if he can't he doesn't play & Christian gets a gig), 7. Wade, 8. Faulkner (in for Starc), 9. Siddle, 10. Pattinson, 11. Lyon 12th Starc - I'd have Starc in the nets with Craig Mac as it seemed to work a treat for Cummins & Pattinson. I'd consider Copeland for Siddle. Rogers gets the gig ahead of Cowan purely on the basis of experience. There has been a trend in Oz for spicy pitches over the last 2 seasons - I ssupect the SCG will be, unsure about The G, the WACA may be back to its bouncy best. I would select a special side for Adelaide - I'd look to bring O'Keefe into #7 & Wade to #6, & drop Punter/Hussey & move Watto to #4. This would be a once off for the assumption of a drier Adelaide Oval.

  • Andrew on December 14, 2011, 0:52 GMT

    @Adrian Meredith - "Hughes should never have been brought back to the test side after his technical flaws were exposed so badly back in 2009" - he should never have been dropped in the first place. It wasn't until some well meaning persons (Langar/Nielsen) started tinkering with him did he develop a problem. The problem for Hughes is that he does not posess a Copy Book technique. This is only a problem when tinkering occurs. When things are going well - all the nuances balance out & he has more than enough temprement/technique to pile on a mountain of runs. However, what happenned (can't say for sure - just deducing), is that one flaw getting corrected, openned up another deficiancy. Second flaw gets tinkered with - creates another one. Personally if I was Hughes I would tell everyone bar D'Costa to shove their advice up their preverbial & go back to the beginning. Nobody with any knowledge of the game would say Chanderpaul has a good technique - but is EFFECTIVE, his test ave - 48+!

  • Roo on December 13, 2011, 9:10 GMT

    If you listened to Clarke @CA (where Coverdale got his info) Clarke said that all the batters have to start to find runs - not just Hughes... He included himself... ... @ the selectors... seems like Warner, Watson, Khawaja, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Haddin are the batters... But for me it would be Warner, Watson, Cowan, Khawaja, Clarke, Christian, Wade/Neville... With the possibility of India batting for long periods, we will need a 5th bowler & Clarke, Warner, Hussey do not stack up as long over bowlers...

  • Roo on December 13, 2011, 9:01 GMT

    Dashgar... Not sure about the logic of your Chairmans players... & there are 2 games as well... With Cowan in the mix & Warner captain (significant) it will put a lot of pressure on both Hughes & Khawaja to perform, but it also will give all these batsmen time in the middle against Indias bowlers before the first Test!... Marsh is out of the 1st Test due to continuing problems... None of the bowlers being used will likely play Test cricket this summer - unlike the ABField game for NZ... With Watson returning it looks like Cowan/Hughes/Khawaja are playing for 1 spot @no.3... Khawaja is the shoe-in atm... Ponting & Hussey are on life support while Haddin needs a brain replacement...

  • Dummy4 on December 13, 2011, 8:03 GMT

    Aus should retain Hughes, he will help india... In fact Pointing, Haddin and Hussey's current form is good signs too.

  • Randolph on December 13, 2011, 7:35 GMT

    You can put this batting failure down to Arthur and Langer. Both completely hopeless as coaches and bring nothing to the team.

  • Tom on December 13, 2011, 6:39 GMT

    @khiladisher, England got beaten 5-0 in a Mickey Mouse one day series so I don't see your point there. As for the whole "rank green wicket" thing the English batsmen and Rahul Dravid seemed to do ok. I'll predict a very tight series, the Aussies certainly have issues but their bowling does look better now and I wouldn't have thought they're quaking in their boots at the prospect of facing Ishant Sharma and Praveen Kumar!

  • Satish on December 13, 2011, 6:15 GMT

    Enough said of Hughes.. He should go as he doesnt even make a bowler strive for his wkt.. The contest is between Punter and Ussie.. Both Punter and Ussie failed.. But Australia should take a decision whether Failing and learning of Ussie is better than Failing and retiring of Punter!!! Ussie has everything to gain but Punter has nothing to gain.. Even if he scores 4 100's i this series, what purpose is it going to serve his team? If Ussie gets even 1 100, it ll be of more value..

  • Basil on December 13, 2011, 5:39 GMT

    I love J.Langer, but what exactly does he do? Our batsmen look worse than ever, and we continually collapse.

  • hayden on December 13, 2011, 2:01 GMT

    @the bloke on facebook talking up hughes stats when compared to haydens. matt hayden failed early in his career against the west indies attack featuring ambrose and walsh and a south african attack featuring white lightning and de villers. high quality bowlers. phil hughes went to sri lanka and faced kulasekara and randiv & faced chris martin at home!!! your comparison isnt worth a pinch of salt once you look at it in more depth!

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