Pakistan v Australia 2012 July 16, 2012

One day, Hughes will get his chance

Australia are looking for a No.3 in their ODI side. Phillip Hughes might have been the man for the job, but has been overlooked again

Twenty players were chosen in Australia's limited-overs squads for the series against Pakistan. A few others must have come close, including Aaron Finch, Rob Quiney and Nathan Lyon. But there was no sign of the man with the highest one-day average of all current Australian batsmen. He also has the highest Twenty20 average of all time among Australians, and is the No.1 run scorer in the county T20 competition this year.

His name is Phillip Hughes. And he has played 17 Tests, no one-day internationals and no T20s for his country.

It is odd that Hughes has been viewed as a Test specialist. The only other batsmen in the past decade to play Test cricket for Australia without appearing in one-dayers have been Ed Cowan, Usman Khawaja, Chris Rogers and Martin Love, all men with conventional techniques, whose role is as much crease occupation as run-scoring. Hughes is not in that category.

Of course, it is easy to look at Hughes and say that he has had his chances. That is true, in the longer format. He has made Test hundreds but has also had his technique picked apart, first when facing the short ball and then when he could not help playing at balls seaming across him. But a slashing, stroke-playing technique is not a bad thing in limited-overs cricket.

Perhaps the selectors have felt, in the past, that Hughes was better off focusing on his Test-match game. That is not an issue now, for Cowan and David Warner are settling as an opening combination, with Shane Watson capable of stepping back into the role should Cowan falter. Hughes has lost his Cricket Australia contract and is not part of the Australia A squad to play first-class matches in England over the next few weeks.

But he has proven himself capable of scoring runs at international level, and is a naturally aggressive player who can pierce or clear the field. Not to mention the fact that Australia are currently looking for someone to play first-drop in the ODI side. Since Ricky Ponting's departure from the ODI outfit, Australia have tried Watson, Peter Forrest, Matthew Wade, Michael Clarke and George Bailey at No.3, for a collective average of 25.33.

Hughes has been batting at No.3 for Worcestershire this year, and he has made two centuries there. He is fourth on the run tally in the Clydesdale Bank 40-over competition, and is averaging 96. In the Friends Life t20 tournament, nobody has bettered his 322 runs at 80.50, with a strike-rate of 121. For the first time in the competition's current format, Worcestershire have reached the quarter-finals.

Consider the all-time list of T20 averages. Hughes is the leading Australian, averaging 47.16 at a strike-rate of 115. That may drop as he plays more games - he has appeared in only 24 T20 matches - but it's a pretty good start. On the list of all-time List A averages, only the retired Michael Bevan, Dean Jones, Darren Lehmann, Matthew Elliott and Matthew Hayden sit above Hughes' 44.48 among Australians.

Of course Hughes is far from the only man worthy of an ODI call-up. Callum Ferguson deserved another chance, and has been given it. Quiney would be a capable one-day international player, as would Aaron Finch or any number of others.

But Hughes has form, style and international experience on his side, not to mention youth - he is still only 23. His chance in the coloured clothing for Australia might not have arrived just yet, but it should soon. He certainly has the game for it.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on July 19, 2012, 7:01 GMT

    I have no doubt that you're correct regarding the status of some attacks @Meety & like you,took the time to read the player stats in the Unicorn game for Khawaja.As always,I'm looking for evidence that confirms or opposes existing & historical data.The wild card in English cricket is the affect that weather has on the nature of the wickets.The year Aus was bowled out for under 100 v Pak,there were several other Test teams who played in England for the same result.Those conditions elevate medium pacers and spinners to near unplayable and reduce batting lineups to rubble.England is currently experiencing a very wet summer and there are many matches being played where it is the dominant factor in the result.Averages and match data exists to give a holistic picture of any qualities or failings a player may possess.The time honoured method was to allow careers to recommend themselves through long term excellence.The current method twists or ignores evidence to promote unsustainable agendas.

  • Andrew on July 19, 2012, 2:07 GMT

    @hyclass - tongue in cheek you could say that Sth Africa & Ireland have produced the #1 side in the world. The reality is, there is variable quality week to week in the 3 formats in England. Khawaja (happy for him) hit a List A team against the Unicorns, a side of dubious quality. The Unicorns would be like a hybrid Futures League team from the ACT & NT in Oz. Klinger knocked up a ton against a Minor counties side - but it still had FC status. Jacques couldn't buy a run in the Shield for 2 seasons, & is killing it in County cricket atm. I won't for one second say that there are not great matches of high standards in the various leagues over there, & also there is very much a multi-national aspect where there is great learning benefit. Despite my views on County cricket, I am happy Hughes is carving it up across 3 formats - it can only be good for him & Australia.

  • Christopher on July 18, 2012, 12:00 GMT

    There's no question Hughes is the real deal.A player simply doesn't accumulate the records he holds without having the necessary qualities.His ave for NSW is 52.Is Shield to be ignored also?Those who dismiss County Cricket must acknowledge that it's produced the world number 1 side & deserves far greater recognition.Hughes records include: Bradman Medallist,Steve Waugh Medallist,Shield Player of the Year,Youngest to a 100 in a Shield Final,Youngest in 132 years to score 2 x 100s in 1 Test & several age related records in Wisden.Those who dismiss his 574 runs for Middlesex in 09 should research further.His 10 games before the Eng Lions game in 09 produced 8 x 100s & 1637 runs at 96 on 3 continents.The change came when on joining the Aus squad,he was instructed to alter his style & technique-something that DeCosta commented about on Cricinfo.By far the most damaging was the opening of his front shoulder putting him more front on & his changed grip limiting bat speed,direction & control.

  • Garry on July 17, 2012, 22:28 GMT

    I think Hughes will get his chance in ODI down the track. Just let him keep knocking the runs out in the UK and then back home in Australia. Hopefully we'll start to see the ODI squad take shape as the OD WC approaches. Already thankfully seen a bit of a shift with the side picked for UAE. Happy to see Ferguson in there, his Ryobi numbers were good last year and did nothing wrong when he played for Australia. I just think out top order looks a little light but maybe they want to bat deep in UAE and feel the flatter pitches will put less stress on the top order unlike in the UK. T20 is interesting, I would have thought someone like Finch or Shaun Marsh (2800 runs @ 41 SR 134) would have been picked, they have done well in T20. Mitch Marsh is still coming back from injury and had his warning, might be too late to be considered but expect him to be named in the 30 man squad this week for the WC. Andrew McDonald is a very handy allrounder too in T20.

  • Peterincanada on July 17, 2012, 21:09 GMT

    This is an interesting article. I would certainly place Hughes above Forrest and Bailey. He has been playing against Div. 1 in the four day games and a combination of the two in the one dayers and again today he held the batting together. I don't think anyone can deny his talent. Against NZ it was the mental pressure that got to him. He went out knowing that he needed a hundred to keep his spot and the pitches and the pressure got to him. I hope he gets another chance because the cupboard is not very full at this time.

  • Allan on July 17, 2012, 14:05 GMT

    Great to see Hughes and Khawaja get runs in county, Khawaja got a century yesterday for Derbyshire and predict many more to come for Qld this coming season.

  • Rahul on July 17, 2012, 14:03 GMT

    The english would love it if we included Hughes in the team, he had plenty of chances including 2 ashes failures and needs at least 2-3 solid seasons before being considered again. Good to see Khawaja get a century in county yesterday for Derby.

  • Mariam on July 17, 2012, 14:00 GMT

    Don't agree with Coverdale on this article, Hughes had plenty of chances to prove himself but failed on each occassion and a couple of runs in county doesn't mean that we pick him for the Aussie team. Its not like Hughes didn't have his chances, he had plenty and the most recent failure against NZ was terrible. Players such as Khawaja, Burns and Maddinson would do better. Hughes needs at least 3 seasons in shield cricket before he should be considered for the Aussie team.

  • Fozia on July 17, 2012, 13:13 GMT

    In ODD, Usman Khawaja has the highest average of 44.58, more than Phil Hughes (44.48) and all other OD Australian players. Not only that, Khawaja has the best strike rate of 100s/50s, which is 3.17 i.e. one 100/50 every 3 innings. in 19 matches he has scored 4 tons. He deseves the chance in ODI before any other player. A classic case of perception vs stats.

  • Dummy4 on July 17, 2012, 9:19 GMT

    Hughesy is best left where he is for now. He may very well be back there next year wearing a different cap, so the more time he spends there the better. I think after his last recall which turned sour the selectors will want to see plenty of runs under his belt before picking him again and not just against a bunch of division two county trundlers. Kudos to the NSP here.

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