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Phillip Hughes joins South Australia

Brydon Coverdale

June 28, 2012

Comments: 38 | Text size: A | A

Phillip Hughes celebrates his century, Tasmania v New South Wales, Sheffield Shield Final, Hobart, 1st day, March 17, 2011
Phillip Hughes has played his last match for New South Wales © Getty Images
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Phillip Hughes has quit New South Wales and joined South Australia in the first major interstate move of the domestic contracting window. The signing of Hughes is a significant boost for the Redbacks, who did not win a Sheffield Shield match last summer and continued to rely heavily on their captain Michael Klinger for top-order runs.

It will also add to the changing nature of the New South Wales batting order, with the former captain Simon Katich and the veteran opener Phil Jaques having both retired from the Blues after last season. Last summer, New South Wales were bursting with quality openers, with Katich, Hughes, Jaques, David Warner, Shane Watson and Nic Maddinson all part of their squad.

But in 2012-13, they will be scratching around for a new opening combination, with Watson and Warner likely to spend most of the season on international duty and another potential opener, Usman Khawaja, also considering an interstate move. The Blues were one of the states most affected by the slashing of the number of national contracts as Hughes, Khawaja, Brett Lee, Doug Bollinger, Nathan Hauritz and Steven Smith all lost their Cricket Australia deals last week.

Hughes, 23, has decided a move to Adelaide will help him in his push to regain a place in Australia's Test side, after he was axed following the home series against New Zealand last season. Hughes was replaced by Ed Cowan in the national setup and while Cowan has shown promise, there could be an opening at the top of the order within the next year if he doesn't begin turning his starts into substantial scores.

"The next two years are the most critical in my cricket career and I'm not going to leave any stone unturned to make sure I put myself back into contention to play again for Australia," Hughes said. "Missing a Cricket Australia contract this year is not the end of the world. In fact, in lots of ways it's a new beginning."

Hughes burst on to the domestic scene in Australia at the age of 18, and in 38 first-class appearances for New South Wales he has scored 3360 runs at 52.50. He has also enjoyed a productive month with Worcestershire this year, having started the season with two one-day hundreds and continued with strong form in the Twenty20 competition.

"The [Worcestershire] organisation, their support of me and my ability to focus 100% on my game has been a real eye-opener and my form with the bat has obviously benefited from it," Hughes said. "That's what I expect the move to Adelaide to also do for me, and I can't wait to get there and settle in."

Hughes said he had enormous respect for his former Australia coach Tim Nielsen, who is now the head coach of the Emerging Redbacks programme, and the South Australia director of cricket Jamie Cox, who as a former national selector played a role in Hughes' emergence as an international batsman. Cox said the addition of Hughes was a major boost for the South Australia squad.

"It is fantastic for us to bring in someone of Phillip's quality, and it works hand in hand with the opportunity that he is also looking for," Cox said. "His record here at Adelaide Oval [two centuries and a fifty in three first-class games], playing against South Australia, is very good and we believe he will be a great asset for us at the top of the order. He is an extremely hard-working cricketer who wants to succeed at the highest level again, and we believe that his determination and focus will be a great example for our young cricketers."

The state associations have until the end of next week to finalise their contract lists for next summer, a process that was delayed by the protracted pay talks between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association. In other potential moves, Hauritz and Khawaja have both been linked with Queensland, while Western Australia confirmed they have approached the Tasmania wicketkeepers Tim Paine and Tom Triffitt.

The Warriors are searching for a gloveman to replace Luke Ronchi, who moved to New Zealand at the end of last summer. The Western Australia coach Lachie Stevens told the Age that Michael Johnson, who kept wicket in five Shield matches last summer, had not been offered a new contract.

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

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Posted by EddieGilbert on (July 1, 2012, 3:35 GMT)

Concur with Hammond, jonesy2 and Hyclass. There's just something special about Hughes that keeps gnawing at you. The guy knows how to score runs and will in international cricket in due time. And when he does we'll all wonder what he changed. He'll just go back to his pre Nielson technique which was pure genius.

Posted by hyclass on (June 30, 2012, 11:14 GMT)

@Hammond..Its early days at Worcester for Hughes,but in 4x20/20,4x List A and 1 x 1st Class match,he has 2 x 100s, 4 x 50's and 533 runs at 76. His last game 87* from 54 balls against Glamorgan included a 33 year old Simon Jones of '05 Ashes fame who took 3 for 29.Not the 4 x 190's of his pre '09 Ashes but far better.I hope that Hughes abandons the idea of attempting to play like Langer and returns to his more unorthodox game.The idea that technique is the panacea for all ills ignores the plethora of Test players that continue to flourish sans said text book while others perish at its altar.Chanderpaul,with a career Test average of 50 was easily the pre-eminent batsman in the last series v Aus.Excessive adherence to technique prevents a batsman from developing the capacity to adapt and respond to the variety of bowling styles and pitches that will be encountered.It also detracts from batsmen mentally imposing themselves on the ball and bowler which is the swiftest route to success.

Posted by hyclass on (June 30, 2012, 10:54 GMT)

@Hammond..I believe that many of us share your sentiments regarding Hughes.@drinks.break..I enjoyed most of what you've said with the caveat that were you to look at batsmen only re proportional representation,the disparity would be more evident for Victorians.In recent years,Rogers,D Hussey & Hodge might have formed a formidable top order.@Dashgar...another perspective on that NSW v WA game might be that the team included a who's who of then current & ex Test players who by national representation were the most exposed by extraordinary undermining inadequacies at CA identified by Argus.I wouldn't take it on face value when all are aware of the talent of that line-up.It's hard to refute the failings of NSW batsmen until you observe that it was a national epidemic that included all states & the national side.When viewed in panorama,the uniting philosophy is the unrecanted CA' lack of investment in traditional Shield & Tests' as publicly stated by Hayden while a CA Board member/employee

Posted by Dashgar on (June 30, 2012, 1:45 GMT)

@drinksbreak, I don't have the stats in front of me but it seems that the vast majority of young players eg U22, are from NSW. Recently there's been Hughes, Smith, Cummins, Hazelwood, Starc, Henriques, added to a couple slightly older like Warner, Khawaja and Copeland. I'm not sure any other state could reel off a list like that. And when those guys all play together they are a pretty poor state side, just look at the drubbing WA dished out to them last year.

Posted by redneck on (June 29, 2012, 13:03 GMT)

ok??? is there a spot for any born and bread south aussie left??? between berry's vic buddies he bough over with him, the nsw rejects and a south african rent-a-captain is there any spots still left???? welcome hughesy but come on saca pick a couple of performers from the grade comp! if were going to keep finishing last we might aswell do it with a few local boys in the team!!!

Posted by   on (June 29, 2012, 11:02 GMT)

Hughes should learn from the examples of Langer, Hayden and Martyn. They all had a false start to their careers, but then they spent several seasons in shield cricket, scored a bunch of runs and fixed their techniques, and then they came back.

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (June 29, 2012, 6:15 GMT)

the only good thing coming out from hughes and khawaja moving interstate and katich and jaques retiring is that it will give job security to the most promising young opener in australian set-up:Nic Maddinson

Posted by Buckers410 on (June 29, 2012, 0:56 GMT)

Good on South Australia. Hughes will make a lot of runs for the Backs and now other states will have respect for SA's top order

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (June 28, 2012, 23:36 GMT)

Like most Aussie fans I was a big fan of Hughes but 2 dissapointing stints at International cricket against our old foes(England) was very dissapointing. The fact is that he will need at least 3-4 seasons at shield before he can be considered for Australia as the NZ series was very embarassing for Hughes.

Posted by jonesy2 on (June 28, 2012, 15:45 GMT)

there is no doubt he will become a great and i mean great test match opener for australia its got all the classic writing on the wall for that.

Posted by Hammond on (June 28, 2012, 15:00 GMT)

I would really love to see Hughes flourish, and in the meantime remember his own game. Even Bradman had everyone in his ear trying to change his grip, stance etc: he kept to his own guns. Hughes should just concentrate on hitting runs the way he knows how. He is a breath of fresh air in stifling international cricket. I love watching him bat.

Posted by RandyOZ on (June 28, 2012, 13:09 GMT)

@jmcilhinney - keep it quiet, but I was born in NSW, and am a staunch Redback supporter, although have been here most of my life. When the talent is as thin in SA as it is, you need to rely on imports, much like team England I guess :)

Posted by drinks.break on (June 28, 2012, 12:57 GMT)

@Dashgar, you're wrong to say that some players are rushed into Australian colours "just because they wear the sky blue". I haven't looked at it recently, but a year ago I compared where the Australian contracted players had first played FC cricket, and ALL STATES bar 2 had a proportional representation compared to each state's population. Which two didn't? The state that massively overperformed relative to population was Tasmania, and the state that massively underperformed was Victoria (which I put down to the suffocating dominance of AFL there). NSW-originating players were represented at the same rate as their WA, SA and Qld colleagues. The myth of NSW-centric selections is an invention of Victorians to stop them looking at the issues in their own backyard.

Posted by HatsforBats on (June 28, 2012, 11:04 GMT)

@ Digimont, yeah I guess players like Klinger, Harris, Cooper, Christian, & Lyon have just been dead weight for SA these last few years. Oh and that Bradman guy? Useless. SA had such a succesful Shield season last year, I can see how adding Hughes (nearly 6000 FC runs at 23yrs old) would be a waste of time.

Posted by RoJayao on (June 28, 2012, 10:37 GMT)

Great move Hughes, a new start to hopefully rebuild a career. And as for crackpots who think SA would be better off without "failures" from other states, you've forgotten who your best batsman is and where he's from! Another pretty handy "failure" import averaged nearly 100 in test cricket!

Posted by stuartk319 on (June 28, 2012, 10:17 GMT)

Though I don't think Aus will pick Hughes anytime soon, I think that this is a good move because he is a confidence player. SA bowling has been OK but Klinger has carried the batting for years. So, unless Hughes messes up very badly he'll be allowed time to settle, thus scoring runs in Adelaide and Perth and probably Melbourne and Sydney. This ought to make him part of SACAs furniture, and I predict allow him to play without fear on the seaming Brisbane and Hobart tracks, the likes of which have undone him at Test level to date.

Posted by Reverend-Cavalier on (June 28, 2012, 9:34 GMT)

I haven't seen Hughes bat this English summer but I've read more than once now that he is a lot better outside the off stump, which is great. He's also scoring runs again which can only help his confidence. He really did need to fix this and I hope he's on the way to doing it, because he is such a talent and can hit a ball quite like no other. I feel, though, that he was treated harshly by the previous regime under Hilditch when he should have been backed to the hilt. He wasn't and never will be a conventional bat, but neither was Arthur Morris (whom Bradman always backed). I feel he has a lot more to offer Australian cricket and would make an explosive opening combination with Warner. I'm not at all convinced that Cowan is a test opener, but am happy to be proven incorrect by runs on the scoreboard. Watson is not a top order bat and should be 6 or 7. There is room at the top of Australia's order and I just hope Hughes keeps scoring runs to get another look in

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 28, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

But Randy, surely you don't want another player born out of state playing for SA. What if he still barracks for the Swans in the AFL? Oh the humanity!

Posted by Digimont on (June 28, 2012, 9:03 GMT)

As a South Australian - I don't want him. We continue to prop up our team with failures from other states, allowing those running the game to continue to support a mediocre development system. I'd rather enough abject failure to force a complete rebuild, something that would last until the next generation of Adelaide Oval stands are needed.

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (June 28, 2012, 8:48 GMT)

@Lewisedwards is correct, Hughes has taken the easy way out by going to SA, the pitch there won't test him. The English will be hoping we select Hughes again for the Aussie team as they figured him out twice, but I hope the selectors give him at least 3-4 seasons before giving him another chance as he had some major chinks in his batting technique.

Posted by zenboomerang on (June 28, 2012, 8:44 GMT)

More good news for the Redbacks... What with Botha their new captain & Hughes signing a 3 year contract they have bolstered their stocks - seems like a good fit... I still think SA are down a good pace bowler but their overall team is starting to look good... With NSW struggling into 2nd last spot last season, losing Hughes & Khawaja is probably not what they were hoping for... Not sure where Ussie is going to go to? - Tas, Vic, Qld seem to have reasonably good squads, while WA has been building well in recent seasons...

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (June 28, 2012, 8:40 GMT)

Probably a good move as Hughes was probably about to be dumped from New South Wales while South Australia are desperate. If he is going to rebuild himself, this is probably the best way to do it.

Posted by katandthat3 on (June 28, 2012, 7:42 GMT)

Must admit I didn't see this one coming. I heard news about Khawaja maybe going to QLD but nothing about Hughesy leaving. He should score heaps at Adelaide, short square boundaries to his liking (opposing States will have to have 6 fielders on the boundary from extra cover to third man, he'll probably still pick the gap). NSW have now lost Katich, Jaques and Hughes and possibly Khawaja. Maddinson will get a decent crack now and it'll mean guys like Patterson might get more games too. With this new contract system in place, it'll certainly open up some more interesting moves. Hauritz might return to QLD and Wes Robinson won't be offered a contract with WA (he should pick up a spot in another State if he doesn't stick there, I really rate him). Paine is staying with Tas so Tom Triffit might look for a chance in the west, he's very promising. It's all about opportunity, provided we have the best playing in the domestic comp it doesn't matter where they play. Need CA to back the Shield.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 28, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

@drinks.break on (June 28 2012, 03:23 AM GMT), a bit off-topic but imagine what it's like when the whole country is obsessed with another sport, e.g. England and football (soccer). Just look at WI now that cricket is no longer the glamour sport that it was over there. I wonder whether NZ is in a similar position with rugby. Kinda makes you wonder a bit about India, with over a billion people and cricket the #1 sport. You'd think they'd be unbeatable based on that.

Posted by Dashgar on (June 28, 2012, 6:38 GMT)

@jmcilhinney, key word there, regaining. These players have to move away because NSW are taking talented youngsters and aren't developing them. Also selectors are shoving them into national colours way too early which is denting their confidence. If Hughes was at another state to begin with he might have been overlooked early in his career and come into the side a proper professional rather than a kid with a good eye and 1000 technical issues. The rest of the states are never unhappy when a McGrath or a Waugh come out of NSW. But it's the thousand of others that are rushed in way before they're ready just because they wear light blue.

Posted by tasliskr on (June 28, 2012, 6:14 GMT)

best wishes hughes.And produce more quality openers-nsw........come on

Posted by Waewick on (June 28, 2012, 5:43 GMT)

I'm not sure how people could suggest he will be a flat track bully on the Adelaide Oval....it has helped 10 years of SACA batsmen do anything but fail.

But hopefully a change of scenery gives Hughes a shot back at the big time.

Posted by notvery on (June 28, 2012, 4:56 GMT)

Good luck to him... i was at the Adelaide oval a week or so ago... shocking ground... looked like a terrible surface...hahahaha

Posted by Paul_Rampley on (June 28, 2012, 4:48 GMT)

I have to agree with elektrobank, scoring on the flattest pitch on Australia won't help his cause and that's why the selectors never really pick batsman from SA as it doesn't prepare you for other more difficult pitches such as in Brisbane and Perth.

Posted by Mary_786 on (June 28, 2012, 4:41 GMT)

@elektrobank agree with you mate as Hughes will only become a flat track bully by making this move and this is why the selectors are reluctant to pick many from SA as the Adelaide pitch is the easiest to bat on in Australia. I think Hughes has too many deficiencies in his game as seen from the NZ series and choosing to play on the easiest pitch in Australia is not the best move from him.

Posted by BurmaStu on (June 28, 2012, 4:32 GMT)

This is great news, although I'm not sure that playing 50% of his matches on the Adelaide road (I'm a South Aussie) will necessarily cure his weakness outside off stump that was so gloriously exposed by Chris Martin. But I'm sure scoring ton after ton will rebuild his confidence, and leave him better placed to leave the balls he can't slash through the offside. Can SA finally win some Shield matches now?

Posted by HatsforBats on (June 28, 2012, 4:16 GMT)

Not sure a move to SA will do much to develop his batting; maybe Qld, WA, or Tas would've been a better bet. Maybe he's hoping the mountain of runs that he'll score on the new drop in pitch will get him back in contention for a test berth? I also don't see how Hughes will benefit from any sort of relationship with Neilsen! Anyway, good luck to the kid (hard to believe he's still only 23).

Posted by RandyOZ on (June 28, 2012, 3:31 GMT)

@jmc - unfortunately I cannot take the credit for this move, but needless to say I am extremely happy! Will absolutely carve it up at the top of the order for the Redbacks, before carving up England in the next Ashes!

Posted by drinks.break on (June 28, 2012, 3:23 GMT)

While, as a NSW supporter I'm sorry to see Hughes go, it certainly seems the best move for him. Because NSW always has a relatively strong stream of talent coming through (because of our population base and also because, unlike Victoria, we're not so obsessed with one other sport (AFL) that most of our talent goes there), a player like Hughes probably doesn't get the focussed attention he needs to succeed. In NSW it's sink or swim, and some of Australia's best players in the past have had to go elsewhere to be able to find the space to make their mark (Gilchrist, Border, etc), and many of the current crop have had to do likewise (Harris, Lyon, Forrest, Cowan). Hope he gets the support he needs and prospers in Adelaide.

Posted by Hodra99 on (June 28, 2012, 2:37 GMT)

Hughes will love the conditions here in SA. I expect a mountain of runs from him next season on the Adelaide oval track. He seems to have overcome his problem outside off stump after seeing his performances in England this winter.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 28, 2012, 2:35 GMT)

It's interesting that I've seen many comments on this site claiming bias towards NSW players when it comes to national selection and yet Hughes, and it seems maybe Khawaja too, see leaving NSW as beneficial to their chances of regaining a Test spot. Whatever the case, I'm guessing that NSW may be about to set the record for the largest number of opening batsmen lost before a season. Apart from the others, how many games was Watson likely to play anyway and Warner is pretty much a total loss too as he seems to have settled into the Australian team for the foreseeable future.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (June 28, 2012, 2:29 GMT)

@RandyOZ, did you offer Hughes some sort of incentive to make this move? ;-)

Posted by elektrobank on (June 28, 2012, 2:16 GMT)

So he can be a flat track bully on the Adelaide Oval and make a million runs..?

Leaving NSW he'll never get back in the Aussie test team!

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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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