Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Melbourne

Hughes grabs his chance

After 802 matches and 199 players - not to mention his 20 Tests - Phillip Hughes became the first Australian to make an ODI ton on debut

Brydon Coverdale at the MCG

January 11, 2013

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

In 42 years of one-day international cricket, the Australia team has played 802 matches and used 199 players. Until this match, none had scored a century on debut. Enter Phillip Hughes, a man whose technique would seem to be suited to the short form, yet due to the presence of top-order strikers like David Warner and Shane Watson, had to wait until he had played 20 Tests before he was given an opportunity in the ODI side. He certainly took it.

The departures of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey from the limited-overs team, Ponting a year ago and Hussey more recently, have opened up spaces for new men to make their names in the ODI format. In this match, Hughes' fellow debutants Aaron Finch and Usman Khawaja didn't manage to show their best, but Hughes did. His 112 set up Australia's push for a 300-plus total and he broke the record of another left-handed Phil - Jaques - for the highest score on debut by an Australian.

"The manager came up and told me when I got out," Hughes said of becoming the first Australian to score a hundred on debut. "It's flattering to hear that. There's been some great players before me and to get that is something that I'll never forget. There were a few [nerves], definitely. First game, I had a few nerves there. I wanted to get a couple away early and then ease back a bit."

Ease back he did - perhaps a little too much during the middle overs, when his innings threatened to stagnate, but the presence of a level-headed George Bailey, captaining Australia for the first time in an ODI, helped tremendously. Bailey showed why he has been one of his country's best one-day performers in the past year with an innings full of pierced gaps and quick singles, and it was just what Hughes needed as triple figures drew nearer.

"I was struggling in the middle overs there a little bit," Hughes said. "To have George down the other end rotating the strike beautifully and taking that pressure off me was good. It was outstanding. He scored a lot better than a run a ball. It was a very good innings."

Phillip Hughes was the first Australian to score a century on ODI debut, Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Melbourne, January 11, 2013
Phillip Hughes became the first Australian to hit a century on ODI debut © Getty Images

Like Hughes, Bailey had the chance to go on and score a century, but he fell on 89 from 79 balls when he slammed a catch down the throat of deep midwicket. It was an unselfish shot as he aimed to lift Australia to a more imposing total, and Bailey said he had no regrets about missing out on a milestone in pursuit of team success.

"I was always taught in by Michael di Venuto, who I learnt a lot off, that you score your eighties and if you get lucky you get a hundred in one-day cricket, and that's how you build around the team," Bailey said. "Certainly when Dave Huss and I were going, I thought we needed to get that score up around 300.

"It was a very, very good batting wicket. Big open expanses and that new rule with only having four out, it was pretty important to keep ticking the team score over rather than three figures. Hopefully that opportunity will come up at another time."

It is that kind of attitude that made Bailey the logical choice to captain the side in the absence of the resting Michael Clarke, despite the fact that it was only his 14th ODI. In the lead-up to the match, Bailey's side was criticised for its lack of star power but judging by how the inexperienced outfit performed in their 107-run victory, such concerns were unfounded. Not that Bailey expects his new-look side to remain the same for long, with men like Clarke, Warner and Watson to return.

"There's some pretty good horses left out of it, so I think they'll be right," Bailey said. "But the challenge is to make it as difficult as you can for the selectors when they're picking the team, and to have that depth so that when an injury does occur, everyone knows that you can slot in, or perform different roles, or you can do whatever is required.

"I think it was a really great team effort to stand up on the back of some criticism from some outsiders and some people who weren't sure if we were up to it. Hopefully we've put those doubts to bed. The next challenge is to do it consistently and go 2-0 up."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Meety on (January 13, 2013, 0:32 GMT)

@dunger.bob on (January 12 2013, 01:13 AM GMT) - I agree. After the Khawaja dismissal, I thought Hughes was clamming up & we would have a bit of scoring pressure from SL. Bailey took the game away from SL with intelligent batting. I think a couple of days ago I doubted whether I would put him in my 1st choice team - I have changed my tune, he is Hussey's replacement IMO! @Peterincanada on (January 12 2013, 16:44 PM GMT) - well said. I don't have much to add (nothing), but enjoyed reading article where 90+% of the comments were thoughtful.

Posted by Peterincanada on (January 12, 2013, 16:44 GMT)

The postings are most insightful and informative. It is a great difference from some of the mindless bashing of players and the equally tiring jingoism that often appears on these pages.

Posted by hyclass on (January 12, 2013, 12:52 GMT)

@SBTang...thank you for gladdening my heart with a blog that underscores in very eloquent manner, a point I've made since the 'technique myth' first gained a vogue in '09. I have long maintained that to succeed a batsman needs only an attacking plan,a defensive plan and the physical ability,courage & endurance to enact it.Technique is the least relevant of all facets.The worst technique I ever saw was Paul Nobes who opened the batting & averaged 41 for Vic & SthAus, scoring 15 1st class 100s.I recommend to you, the YouTube videos,'115 Hughes v SA and 160 Hughes v SA.When he failed during the Ashes '09, it was clear to me that his footwork was different and that his hands & feet were far slower. Given his 1637 runs at 96 with 8 x 100s in the preceding 10 games,it was obvious his game was changed. I wondered why & also why he was dropped so quickly given his last dismissal bounced.Then DeCosta, his long time mentor stated he'd been forced to change his game on joining the Ashes squad.

Posted by hyclass on (January 12, 2013, 11:54 GMT)

@PFEL...good to see others finally questioning the 'public version' of events re Hughes. His 1st class game is in fact, statistically, far worse than it was when he played his own natural game. He averaged in the 60's in Test and 1st class cricket. Unfortunately, once he was forced to change his game and it failed, those responsible were able to push the 'technique myth' and Hughes had no choice but to go with it if he wished ever to be selected again. He was then set a further challenge to be proficient in all formats if he wished to make Test selection. He has four scores in the 190's in 1st class cricket, but hasnt shown anywhere near the endurance required to threaten those scores since being burdened with this new technique. Its as though, the effort required is sapping his energy. He has shown enough in the short forms now to be an automatic inclusion but I wonder if his 1st class game will ever again approach the pre Ashes 09 heights when he wrote his name into cricket history.

Posted by hyclass on (January 12, 2013, 11:47 GMT)

@Mourinho7...well said. I have similar views and wish him every success.The Phil bashing that certain uninformed sections of the Australian public have taken up is far more hostile than anything an opposition bowler could throw at him. If his character has withstood that, it can only bode well for his and Australia's future.@Moppa...those people who only know Hughes from the Ashes '09 onwards are misled about his game. If you wish to see Hughes game before it was meddled with on joining the Ashes '09 squad,look for Hughes 115 v SA and Hughes 160 v SA on Youtube. You will see leg side boundaries and scoring aplenty, bouncers at 145+ km/h angled in from around the wicket with leg slips and of course, off side mastery. It should be evident that his hands and feet are far slower vs Eng and from then on. The SA attack was far superior. According to DeCosta, his long time coach/mentor, he was forced to change his approach and game on joining the squad,'in a way that didn't gel or suit him'.

Posted by SBTang on (January 12, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

Thanks for another top piece Brydon.

Yup, I agree with Mourinho7, dunger.bob and moppa.

A batsman's job is to score runs. And Australian cricket history -- modern and ancient -- is littered with prominent examples of country batsmen with distinctly unorthodox techniques who, like Hughes, have scored heavily at domestic level, but had their technique ridiculed as they tried to make the step up to international cricket, only to go on and thrive in the face of snide put downs from technical fetishists: see, eg, Bradman and Hayden.

I watched Hughes in England last summer. Two things were clear. First, that he'd rediscovered the virtues which brought him all those mountains of runs when he was but a teenager -- blinding bat speed, fearless driving and an unwavering belief in his simple but effective technique. Second, that he'd successfully worked on what has always been an obvious weakness in his game -- his on-side play. Full post here:

Posted by hyclass on (January 12, 2013, 11:34 GMT)

@popcorn...if you wish to be taken seriously, I suggest you watch the video of the runout attached to this article.Khawaja ran himself out as emphatically as anyone could.He called for a run that was never there,made it a third of the way & then failed to ground his bat effectively on return which would have seen him easily get home I understand that he was nervous but it was a poor piece of judgement & an even poorer piece of execution.You've been running the Hughes hate train since '09 & have regularly blamed him for us losing those Ashes.He scored 36 caught at slip,4 gloved down the leg side & 17 given out caught when the ball clearly bounced in front of Strauss at slip.I've long admired the courage of Hughes in the face of hyper criticism about his technique-criticism which I consider ill informed & unresearched.The difference between his style v an 1100 Test wicket SA '09 & the far weaker Ashes'09 attack was significant.The reasons are far different from the absurd public version

Posted by Moppa on (January 12, 2013, 7:27 GMT)

@Pras_Punter, try Cricket Australia's website. Has a nice highlights package of Hughes' innings, but unfortunately left out my favourite shot from the dig, his 'lasso' cover drive to go from 108 to 112. Would have made Rafael Nadal, proud that one!

Posted by Moppa on (January 12, 2013, 7:12 GMT)

@Peterincanada, I will try to make an intelligent comment. His technique has changed subtly, but mostly in terms of how he plays on the *leg-side*, not the off-side. His improved leg-side play makes him better able to work singles off his body, where previously bowlers had 'tied him up'. In the past, bowlers could bowl very straight at him, aiming almost at middle and off, and deny him the width he loves for cutting and cover driving. Guys like Martin would move the ball across him and, having been denied his scoring shots, he'd poke at it and nick it. As far as I can tell, he's just as liable to nick a ball just outside off and his cutting is still, let's say, 'homespun' (but effective!). But he can now work singles off his body, allowing him to wait for width with more patience, and then cash in. Very disciplined bowling in Tests or ODIs will still test his technique outside off - but that is true of most batmen. But I think the 'new' Hughes can succeed in Tests equally as ODIs.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 12, 2013, 7:01 GMT)

@Ashley Stewart the thing that stood out for Khawaja for me is that he has scored his runs in testing conditions. Khawaja is known for scoring all his big scores on difficult pitches, 140 against Tasmania when they got 90, 2 half centuries against NSW when they only got 150 and a 90 odd against South Australia on a green gabba deck. He is also bowling off spin and got Sangakara out in the chairman's X1 game so that works in his favor as well.@Popcorni think the selectors will bring Khawaja in for the Indian series, he is much more deserving then Maxwell who is not yet ready for test cricket, the Indians will absolutely smash his off spinners. I am going to the game tomorrow so can't wait to see Khawjaa and Hughes get centuries. As for the run out, he was unlucky, lets move on look forward to the game tomororow.

Posted by popcorn on (January 12, 2013, 5:34 GMT)

While I applaud Phil Hughes for his debut ODI Century, see how dismissive the critics are about Usman Khawaja. It was Phil Hughes who ran him out.

Posted by   on (January 12, 2013, 3:23 GMT)

Good to see Hughes taking his opportunities. But lets not get ahead of ourselves, It's only one game. Consistency is what has been missing from our young players. Something warner has improved on in his test career of late. Also this talk of Khawaja talk is making me sick. Do we pick anyone from any states other than NSW? I mean didn't we learn enough from watching steve smith fail in test cricket? What qualifies as a good average these days in 1st class cricket? Because Khawaja's 43 isnt good enough. David Hussey 53.7, Chris Rogers 49.75, now they are averages worthy of test selection. Yes you could argue that D Huss has made a lot of runs at County Cricket which pushes his average over 50 BUT surely this means he is a master of english conditions and is a must selection in England. Show me another batsman playing in australian cricket with an average over 50 and has never played a test. Didn't australian selectors learn anything by NOT selecting Michael Hussey for so long

Posted by inefekt on (January 12, 2013, 1:59 GMT)

@RandyOz, I think you're getting carried away. Our batting stocks are at their absolute lowest, I've never in my many years of supporting Australian cricket seen such a dearth of batting talent at domestic level as I've seen in the last few years. There is not a single batsman under the age of 30 with a first class average of 50 or better, in fact Hughes is the only one averaging 45. Not so long ago we had players averaging over 50 with 10000 first class runs to their names that couldn't even get into the test side. How far we've fallen......

@jmcilhinney, it's hilarious seeing England fans overreact to their team's success. Here's a tip, you're not the best side in the world, SAF are head and shoulders above you. Also, I don't think a side that lost 3-0 to Pakistan is a side that is going to make any Aussie fan lose sleep fearing a demolition in the upcoming Ashes.

Posted by Mourinho7 on (January 12, 2013, 1:31 GMT)

Really happy for Hughes, always been a big fan of his, ever since he was cranking out 100's for NSW as a 19-20 year old and saying that he was good enough to replace Hayden. I find the emphasis on his technique to be quite unfair, and I maintain that if he looked like Michael Clarke when he batted and scored the same runs, he would never have been dropped from the Test team.

In spite of that, I'm happy that he's been able to bounce back and grow as a cricketer, work on diversifying his game and come back more mature and ready to cement his position as our most exciting batsmen for now (and the future).

Posted by dunger.bob on (January 12, 2013, 1:13 GMT)

Good to see Hughes give a lot of credit to his captain. .. I thought Bailey's knock was the match winning performance of the game. .. he took the pressure off Hughes and put us in a position to post a 300 total. .. obviously it was a team effort but I just don't think they would have done quite as well if not for Bailey. .. as for Hughes himself, well it looks to me as if he IS leaving the ball a bit more. There was one glorious one last night in an over otherwise full of attacking intent that caught my eye, mainly because it was a beautiful, dangerous delivery an inch outside off stump. .. also, he is scoring much more freely thru the leg side these days. Glances, tucks off the hip, clips thru midwicket, drives thru long on and pull shots. .. pretty much the full array of leg side shots... not all of them were pretty but I think the important thing is that he now has more run scoring options. .. he still remains a compulsive cutter though. Reminds me of Kepler vessels in that respect

Posted by PFEL on (January 12, 2013, 0:25 GMT)

@Peterincanada, similarly to the "Bevan vs short ball" theory the "Hughes caught in slips" theory is more an excuse for non-selection than a reality. For most of the latter part of his career, Bevan had no problem with the short-ball at all. And even after his removal from the ODI side he was averaging 100 in the shield for a season or 2, where the bowling was just as quick/good as international standard. Similar for Hughes, he got caught in the slips a lot because he was out of form, not because that was a huge "weakness". He still plays through there regularly, just look at his scoring areas, but the way he does it is more appropriate now than when he was out of form. Do you really think Hughes is a lot better now than he was when he scored 2 hundreds vs South Africa? Maybe a little, but not as much as the publicity and selectors would ahve you believe.

Posted by hycIass on (January 11, 2013, 23:24 GMT)

Hughes did well to take his chance and had Khawaja not been unlucky with his run out i am sure he would have taken it as well as he is going through a purple patch at the moment and he should get a big performance in Adelaide. There is not doubt that our test lineup needs Khawaja in the order. .Keep Wade at 7 as he is best suited to that position as keeper and Khawaj should come in as Hussey's replacement Khawaja just showed us in a T20 game what he's capable of. When all but one other batsman could score no more than 20, Khawaja scored a stylish 66 not out. The more opportunities he receives at the highest level, the more such performances will occur with greater frequency.

Posted by Mary_786 on (January 11, 2013, 23:20 GMT)

I agree with Lewis, Khawaja and Hughes are both future of Aus batting and both will do well in the ashes. Khawaja didn't waste an opportunity here, he was just unlucky as he made his ground but the bat popped up when sliding it in. I think both Finch and Khawaja will come good in the next game, lets give these guys a few games to show their talent. @jmchimney you will see that Khawaja will be our key batsman in the ashes, his top score in shield of 140 came on a minefield in Hobart and he will get tough conditions in England and he will be ready.

Posted by Edwards_Anderson on (January 11, 2013, 23:18 GMT)

@jmchimney Khawaja has been a standout in shield and Ryobi yesterday, he was unlucky to be run out yesterday but i expect a big one from him in Adelade and he will be a key batsman in the ashes and Indian series as most of his runs this year have come in tough conditions. The men will be sorted out from the boys over the coming 12 months with 2 ahses together and Khawaja will be a star.

Posted by PrasPunter on (January 11, 2013, 17:23 GMT)

Folks, are the Highlights package of this match available anywhere ? STAR beamed Ind vs Eng on all the channels and felt bad to miss out. Please help. Would love to watch Hughesy's innings.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (January 11, 2013, 16:49 GMT)

@RandyOZ on (January 11 2013, 15:04 PM GMT), and it's not just Hughes. Khawaja is another one whose mid-thirties average in the CC makes him a terrifying prospect for the upcoming Ashes. If Phil Hughes is the Bradman of the current generation then Australian cricket is in more trouble than I thought.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (January 11, 2013, 16:46 GMT)

Like many, I find it curious that the Australian selectors have kept Hughes out of the limited-overs sides for so long. It seemed that they wanted to mould him into a Test specialist but, whether or not he manages to cut it in Test cricket on his third attempt, he's always looked to me to be a more natural fit for limited-overs crciket than Test cricket. If they wanted him in the Test team then that's fine, but I just don't understand the determination to keep him out of the limited-overs sides.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (January 11, 2013, 16:42 GMT)

@RandyOZ on (January 11 2013, 15:04 PM GMT), quite right. That 35 average Hughes made in the last CC absolutely terrifies us England fans. I mean, that's only 7 runs worse than Ravi Bopara.

Posted by tfjones1978 on (January 11, 2013, 16:04 GMT)

I think it goes to show that the Management of players has been effective. Australia is looking to create a squad of great players and not just a team that can break down at any time. In employment its called job sharing, Australia are position-sharing the team roles out. Some matches you have Player X filling spot A, other matches you have Player Y or Z filling the position. The idea is for all players X, Y and Z to be skilled up over time to fill their roles with the best team only selected in important competitions (like World Cup). This would also allow players to go make their millions and other players (like Mick Hussey) to play only home matches. Whilst it might be too late for Mike Hussey, other players like Clarke could play an extra season or two by spreading the load.

Posted by Peterincanada on (January 11, 2013, 16:03 GMT)

There is never an article about Hughes wihout technique being mentioned. The obvious theory is that since Hughes gets caught in the slips and that there are few slips in one day cricket therefore he has a great technique for one day cricket but not for tests. This however, ignores the reasons why he is caught at slip and whether the condition is correctable. Michael Bevan was not successful in tests because he had difficulty with the short ball which he could not correct. I have seen very little of Hughes but intelligent posters say he was caught in slips because he attacked loosely balls that could/should have been left. Also he was under intense pressure to make a score. It seems to me that with more confidence and greater concentration he has overcome those problems. I welcome intelligent comments re his technique.

Posted by RandyOZ on (January 11, 2013, 15:04 GMT)

You can tell by all the chatter on the Australian forums that India and England are getting very, very nervous about Philip Hughes. Bradmanesque figures are being regularly churned out by Hughsey! Our batting talent is incredibly deep, which is why we don't need to go to South Africa to poach players.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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