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Hughes, Khawaja should learn from Ponting - Inverarity

Daniel Brettig

October 16, 2012

Comments: 62 | Text size: A | A

Phillip Hughes cuts during his half-century, Queensland v South Australia, Sheffield Shield, Brisbane, 4th day, October 4, 2012
The selectors believe Phil Hughes has made encouraging strides since being dropped from Tests, but still has a way to go © Getty Images
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Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja must seek to emulate the energy and drive of the seemingly ageless Ricky Ponting before they can be considered ready for a return to Australia's Test team, national selector John Inverarity has said.

Watching Ponting race around the field for Tasmania at Adelaide Oval last week, Inverarity's fellow selector Rod Marsh remarked on the 37-year-old's buzzing countenance, undimmed by a career that has lasted 20 years. It is an example Inverarity said Hughes and Khawaja had to follow on their path back to international cricket. Neither are considered strong fielders.

"Rod Marsh and I were watching in Adelaide and Rod said 'just look at him', of course he was pointing to Ricky Ponting," Inverarity said. "He was running around and throwing left hand and right hand. Khawaja and Hughes need to learn that."

Since being dropped from the national team following last year's Hobart Test defeat to New Zealand, Hughes and Khawaja have spent the northern summer in England undertaking county stints of varying productivity. They have also each moved states in search of better returns as batsmen, Hughes to South Australia, Khawaja to Queensland.

However Inverarity indicated that it was not merely runs the selection panel were seeking from the two left-hand batsmen. Apart from fielding, the issue of running between the wickets is another. Inverarity contrasted Khawaja's approach to that of Ponting and Michael Hussey, who seek runs for their batting partners as aggressively as they crash loose balls to the boundary.

"What we'll have to see from Usman is dynamism in the field and his running between the wickets, demonstrating that energy and vitality," Inverarity said. "You take Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting, when they're at the non-striker's end they present themselves every ball to the batsman. They're there and they're down the wicket and their level of alertness [is high].

"I think Usman needs to learn that. If you're batting, you can be enhanced by the presence of the player at the other end, it's a team. A lot of players would all say batting with Hussey and Ponting, they would enhance their batting, they're just terrific. Usman's got to give in that sense too. He's a beautiful timer of the ball, but there's body language and presence as well."

Hughes has offered signs of developing his game so far this season, impressing Inverarity by unfurling a range of strokes through the leg side during a brief domestic limited-overs innings against the Tigers. Inverarity said the panel wanted to take a patient approach with Hughes, waiting until he had shown he was entirely ready and settled rather than throwing him into the Test side without runs behind him, as happened during the 2010-11 Ashes summer.

"My personal view was that we wouldn't rush him back until he was in a good groove and playing well," Inverarity said. "He played very well in Brisbane, and when South Australia played Tasmania in the one-dayer there was a period of about 20 minutes where he hit two spanking straight drives slightly to the offside, then he pulled two balls.

"He wasn't doing that before, but they were two terrific shots, and one off his toes for three or four. They were different areas to where he was scoring before. There are signs there that he's moving to the next level, and we'd like to see that consolidated. We're counting on him coming through. He has a lot of centuries for a 23-year-old.

"If he's almost ready and he's still getting his game sorted, to bring him back to me is the wrong decision. His platform needs to be solid and he knows where he's at. That's in his long-term interests and Australia's."

Pat Howard, Cricket Australia's team performance manager, said one of many studies conducted by his department was an analysis of how players responded to being dropped from the national team early in their careers. "We've gone and done a study of the last 50 or so years, and the reality is pretty much everybody's got dropped. And it's part of their journey," he said. "There's been a couple of blokes who've been in, seen what it's like, stretched a little bit, come back. Nobody's written off."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by KhanMitch on (October 19, 2012, 13:34 GMT)

@Meety well written bud. Khawaja while being a very good batsman is young and not the finished article and has time to sort things out.

Posted by Mary_786 on (October 19, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

@Meety very well said mate about Khawaja, he will be a great player for Australia and your comments balance his strengths and weakness's very well. Good to see some non bias knowledgeable comments on here.

Posted by Essex_Man on (October 19, 2012, 7:53 GMT)

@Meety - thanks for the reference to that article - an excellent read.

Posted by Meety on (October 19, 2012, 0:30 GMT)

BTW - the article I am talking about can be found under Ussie's profile & it is titled "What ails Australia's best and brightest?" A very interesting read.

Posted by Meety on (October 19, 2012, 0:29 GMT)

@Macca_mat/ross_fleming/Rahul_Ashok - in regards to Hyclass, my only gripe is the repeating of the "trigger movements" often. There is a great article by Chris Rogers in April that talked about Hughes & Khawaja. The opinions of the persons involved in my opinion are valid, which run a similar line to what Hyclass was saying. Does Khawaja look good & composed to me - yes! Am I sure that he does NOT have the problems that Hyclass & other experts say he may have - hell no! I think Khawaja has the makings of a very good Test batsmen - a bloke who should knock up 6,000 test runs at an average above 45, but so should of Michael Bevan, Callum Ferguson should be smashing Test bowlers around the park around the world. Khawaja is not a finished article, he is young enough to get things sorted, (unfortunately Ferguson nope), he definately has the ability. I would be surprised if he doesn't have a good summer & from that be in line for another Baggy Green.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (October 18, 2012, 12:28 GMT)

@ NickKnightIsMyBunny well said buddy. @Ross_fleming spot on bud, Hyclass needs to stop becoming a broken record with his consistent unfair critism of the so called Trigger comment on Khawaja.

Posted by KhanMitch on (October 18, 2012, 11:58 GMT)

Meety i comment regularly on these forums and I think the frustration around a few of the commenters on Hyclass is that he keeps talking about this Trigger issues which Khawaja does not have. Take time to watch the guy and you will see he is a classy player. Well said on him being not afforded the same chances Marsh and Hughes had and as you can imagine his average dropped last year as he was unfarily dropped which affected him negatively. He looks positive this year and with improved fielding and running hopefully he is back sooner rather then later. Well said Meety on what you said, you explained things well.

Posted by Mary_786 on (October 18, 2012, 11:33 GMT)

@Meety unlike Hyclass you actually do reason well in your arguments. Glad that you acknowledged the run out Khawaja got in Gabba against NZ as he was looking good for a 100 following from his 80 against South Africa the game before. I do hear your comments on him backing more while running and around working on the fielding component and hope that he continues to improve these to make him a better player. Having watched a couple of his matches in Derbyshire he took a screamer in Gully against Yorkshire which showed that he has what it takes, just needs to do it in shield now. My frustration around Hyclass is that he keeps repeating the trigger comment when there is no basis behind it. Khawaja as you would acknowledge has a wonderful batting technique.

Posted by Meety on (October 18, 2012, 0:16 GMT)

@ hyclass on (October 17 2012, 09:34 AM GMT) - I agree re: Cosgrove. Judging by a file photo on the Taz v SA List A game & other things I've seen him do, he is a pretty good slipper (Tubby Taylorish even?) & that could be very handy in the Test team. Despite his size, he appears to be the invisible man with the selectors at the moment, proabbly self inflicted which is a big shame. Maybe an Inverarity/Rod Marsh kick up the preverbial could re-ignite him????? @ KiwiRocker- on (October 17 2012, 09:51 AM GMT) - you've crawled back from under the rock you've been hiding. Again - no need to bag a great batsmen like Sachin here. However, knowing your attitude it will fall on deaf little ears!

Posted by Meety on (October 18, 2012, 0:12 GMT)

@Edwards_A/Macca_mat/ross_fleming/Rahul_Ashok/Beertjie - whilst I think Hyclass does bang on too much about trigger movemnets, he has also mentioned a fact that Khawaja's once very impressive FC batting stats have declined significantly. I do believe he was not afforded the same luxuries as S Marsh, & I felt he "would" of got a ton against NZ @ Brisbane had he not been run out. IMO - Khawaja needs to heed the advice of the head of the NSP (really shouldn't be a mater of debate when you think about it), get out & train the house down, in fitness & fielding. I can't believe for one second that Inverarity made up the need for Khawaja to back up more when batting & he needs to work on some specialist fielding positions - mainly short leg/silly mid off - maybe even Gully as Hussey won't be around forever. So apart from the obvious mountain of runs, I don't think Inverarity could be any clearer in the steps Ussie needs to take.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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