Pakistan v Australia 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

Brydon Coverdale

July 16, 2012

Comments: 41 | Text size: A | A

Phillip Hughes continued his good form since joining Worcestershire, Lancashire v Worcestershire, Clydesdale Bank 40, Group A, Old Trafford, June 5, 2012
Phillip Hughes has been in fine limited-overs form this year © Getty Images
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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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by hyclass 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.

Posted by Meety 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.

Posted by hyclass 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.

Posted by katandthat3 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.

Posted by 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.

Posted by Paul_Rampley 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.

Posted by Sunil_Batra 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.

Posted by Mary_786 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.

Posted by gulaboft 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.

Posted by   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.

Posted by popcorn on (July 17, 2012, 7:41 GMT)

I agree with Brydon that Philip Hughes is ideally suited to limited overs cricket.Remember how he scored a quick fire 86 not out in NZ in the Test match?His Test career is dead and buried, that's for sure. It is indeed surprising that he has been left out of the ODI series against Pakistan. Is this a Damien Martyn kind of banishment punishment that he got for the airy fairy shot he played against South Africa at the SCG and did not get a look in to a Test or ODI match for 6 years? If truly performance is the criteria after the Argus Review, Phil Hughes should have been selected for the ODI Series. Are the Selectors holding his "threatening to please" cricket,remembering the centuries he made in County Cricket JUST BEFORE THE ASHES 2009, but failed in the first Two Tests themselves, against him? I would not slot him at Number 3. His style is not the solid Ricky Ponting dependable style. I would have him open with David Warner, and slot Shane Watson at Number 3.

Posted by Meety on (July 17, 2012, 6:20 GMT)

@Bryce27687 - nitpicking - but a S/R of 120 is actually over 7 runs per over. Of the leading runs scorers (23 over 200 runs) in the Friends T20, his S/R is better or comparable to half. So I wouldn't say it is poor CURRENTLY either.

Posted by Chris_P on (July 17, 2012, 4:36 GMT)

@Bryce27687. Just to clear a point. 120 strike rate is about 7.2/over. 100 strike rate is 6/over. Although his figures don't say he is tearing attacks apart, this sort of confidence can only be a positive for him. @MinusZero. Meety beat me to Ferguson's record. @jmcilhinney. Pretty well sums it up. The only thing certain about cricket, as we all know, is that form fluctuates. We would hope this sort of perfromance is not repeated too many more times.

Posted by Meety on (July 17, 2012, 2:32 GMT)

@MinusZero - as on the other thread 364 runs for Sth Oz in 9 games @ 52, with a S/R of 86.

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (July 17, 2012, 1:54 GMT)

Of course Hughes will be back. He needs to make a lot of runs for an entire shield season and then he'll come back into Australian contention. He is a shy country kid who was shattered when forced to change his technique despite being very successful. When he comes back he will dominate test and 50 over cricket for years.

Posted by Bryce27687 on (July 17, 2012, 0:56 GMT)

Very good article. I can see why he is ignored for the T20 matches as his strikerate is poor. Australia are not looking for someone to drop anchor at the top in T20 matches, they are looking for the exact opposite hence Maxwell's selection. Hughes is only striking at 120 against county opposition which is only 6 runs per over. It is exactly what Worcs need but not what Australia needs.

However ODI's are a completely different issue. There is no doubting that Hughes deserves to be in the ODI squad, and it is a travesty that he has not been selected.

Posted by kensohatter on (July 17, 2012, 0:06 GMT)

Whilst im not the biggest Phil Hughes fan I agree that he is better suited to ODI or 20/20 than test matches. Unfortunatley for him Warner has been so succesfull and with Watson at the top there is not really an available place for him. His technique remains a problem though and will still be an issue in shorter formats. Its not like he has the Michael Bevan problem of a weakness to the short ball that is irrelavant in ODIs. He has a weakness against a moving ball outside his off stump... Worse still its not even a problem against a quality moving ball like against an akram or in this current era steyn or anderson... hes had issues against a kiwi attack. This technical issue will be a problem in every form of cricket from grade up.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 17, 2012, 0:06 GMT)

@fr0nt-foot_lunge on (July 16 2012, 13:48 PM GMT), hilarious, except that it sounds rather hollow blaming the selectors for Australia's poor performance in the recent ODI series when even the players that everyone would have included didn;t exactly scintillate. Warner didn't do much and I don't see anyone arguing with his selection. Watson didn't do much with bat or ball for the time he was around. Neither Clarke nor D Hussey did much. All those batsmen had moments but not a great series. The batsmen people seem to have issues with are Forrest and Bailey, but Bailey was the top run scorer for Australia in the series. Bowling was supposed to be the big trump card for Australia according to some and yet Mackay of all people was the only bowler who really looked threatening. Having good players not playing doesn't really count as depth when those who are playing can barely stand up.

Posted by jmcilhinney on (July 16, 2012, 23:57 GMT)

While I still have my doubts about Hughes as a Test cricketer, it's hard to argue with his numbers, which definitely suggest that he deserves a run in the limited-overs formats. The only logical conclusion is that the selectors wanted to give him the chance to finish the current English season, but the Australian selectors haven't necessarily behaved logically recently. It's hard to imagine that he plays a part in their plans for the WT20 or surely he'd be in the squad by now, but they may be looking at him as a possibility for the next home season. Maybe they figure that a recall at home would be better for someone whose confidence may still be a bit shaky despite recent good domestic form.

Posted by MinusZero on (July 16, 2012, 23:49 GMT)

How does Ferguson deserve a chance, where is his form?

Posted by Meety on (July 16, 2012, 23:36 GMT)

@mikey76 - "...the weak county system has produced the No.1 test side..." - nope, sorry it was the Super Sports series in Sth Africa - LOL! @Peter Lewis/Landl47 - I never considered Hughes a short form player until the last Oz summer. I dunno whether playing short form cricket will help him be a better Test batsmen, which is what I rate the more highly. What I do think, is that Hughes scoring runs in any format & any competition is a good thing for his confidence. I have NEVER seen a more shattered man than the one that was trudging off the field in the NZ series. He was a young bloke NOT enjoying life let alone cricket. IMO - for the time being, he is better off just enjoying playing cricket & building up a mountain of runs, (which he is very good at). @Chris_P - I agree (as has been said by a regular poster on the topic of Hughes), I think they (management), corrected flaws, but they created other flaws, & in fixing them -new flaws sprang up. Hopefully going back to the start, b good

Posted by Carpathian on (July 16, 2012, 23:17 GMT)

@RandyOZ Just like when Hughes carted New Zealand to all parts as Australia drew a Test series at home to New Zealand. Yes, that's right New Zealand, albeit they were playing a weak Australia.

Posted by Chris_P on (July 16, 2012, 21:57 GMT)

Phil Hughes has plenty to offer the for the game. I was fortunate to view him when he first hit the headlines and he was sensational! Then for some unknown reason, "experts" started to fiddle with his unorthodox technique to the point where his confidence dropped. This is the guy who is the youngest player to score a century in each innings of a test match. And against the formidable South African attack led by Dale Steyn. He is not without talent. I just hope he moves back to his simple uncomplicated style that first took him to prominence. Let the "experts" fiddle with less talented guys. If these "experts" were around when Doug Walters came to the scene, he never would have played for Australia. Good article.

Posted by   on (July 16, 2012, 21:11 GMT)

They said similar things about Matthew Hayden's technique. He built up a very impressive record in all forms of the game and didn't really establish himself until about the age of 30. I had never considered Hughes as an ODI option which goes to show how easily players are pigeon holed. After reading this I find I can hardly believe his name hasn't been mentioned given the other players who are getting picked.

Posted by mikey76 on (July 16, 2012, 21:10 GMT)

A ringing endorsment from our resident "experts" RandyOz and Jonesy! Oh and the weak county system has produced the No.1 test side, the strong shield produced a lot of mediocrity. Hughes is a prime example of that. A couple of years in county cricket and he might actually learn where his off stump is! Next they'll be saying Lyon is the greatest tweaker since Warne....oh they already have!

Posted by   on (July 16, 2012, 17:03 GMT)

in the current scenario where players like Forrest are getting an extended run, Hughes definitely deserves a chance....would hate to see him go the Martin Love way

Posted by on (July 16, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

Interesting point , philip hughes talent should never be doubted , him and usman khawaja are the best upcoming batsmen for Australia and its only a matter of time before he makes his successful return to the national side , both test and odi . trying him at one down in current odi squad is indeed a very good idea.

Posted by   on (July 16, 2012, 16:28 GMT)

what a great article....thanks

Posted by jonesy2 on (July 16, 2012, 16:07 GMT)

future domination in both ODI and test cricket beckons

Posted by PrasPunter on (July 16, 2012, 15:08 GMT)

The author could well be right - the natural stroke-player that Hughesy is, he does have the potential to become our No 3. But for sure he must sort his technique that has been found out by good, incisive bowling. Lets hope he does better for the sake of Aus Cricket.

Posted by Beertjie on (July 16, 2012, 14:51 GMT)

Brydon, this is a much-needed article. Your point that "the selectors have felt, in the past, that Hughes was better off focusing on his Test-match game" likewise was my guess for him being overlooked for the shorter forms, but this cannot be defended for not at least trialling him there! Whatever we say about him in the longer form, it's up to him to take his chance whenever he get's another shot. I wish him luck there too - heaven knows we're not oversupplied with high-averaging batsmen.

Posted by simon_w on (July 16, 2012, 14:41 GMT)

This is a pretty compelling piece, to be honest. I was totally won over to Phillip Hughes' cause, until I read the ringing endorsement from the inimitable @RandyOZ... Now I fear for his career :(

Posted by applethief on (July 16, 2012, 14:25 GMT)

Just needs to re-learn where his off-stump is, the rest will fall into place for Hughes

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (July 16, 2012, 14:06 GMT)

@RandyOz , do u post comments here for recreation?I mean, cant you do something less silly?

Posted by   on (July 16, 2012, 13:49 GMT)

very good article...i dont think quiney can play well at odi's shaun marsh,ferguson,hughes,finch will be better odi player. chris rogers n quiney should be tried at test matches james hope or mitchel marsh should replace dan christian. bollinger should be called up in all 3 formats dan harris should be selected for t20's brad hodge has still enough cricket left for odi and test.

Posted by Front-Foot_lunge on (July 16, 2012, 13:48 GMT)

Many of my fellow English fans were crowing at the ODI series win against australia, and salivating over the 'No1 in all 3 formats!' title that they're desperate to achieve. But looking at the players australia have just drafted for their ODI series against pakistan, and the lineup that played in England, they're like chalk and cheese! The ODI tour was acclimatisation only for the Aus cricket team. The fact that phil hughes is punishing div 1 county attacks in all formats (remember how we also crow about CC being the stronger domestic comp in the world!) goes to show that if the Aus team leave out players of his calibre, then its a depth we can only dream about! Especially once our purple patch of performance fades and we scratch around for more journeymen from the country ranks.

Posted by landl47 on (July 16, 2012, 13:35 GMT)

I think Hughes has been poorly managed by Australia. He had some early success, but he had a flaw in his technique and, as always happens, if there's a flaw there, top-class bowlers will find and exploit it. Aus had two choices: to stick with him and let the national coaches work with him, while accepting some short-term mediocre results, or send him back to lower-level cricket to work on his problem and not bring him back till it was fixed. They did neither. He was sent down, but recalled before he'd sorted out his problem. Result: no success in the last Ashes series and c. Guptill, b. Martin in 4 successive innings. He was dropped again. I think he's the most talented of Aus's younger batsmen and if he's properly handled will have a fine career. However, if they want him to play test cricket, I DON'T think he should be playing ODI/T20I cricket. He'll just go back to what he was doing wrong before- playing crookedly at balls on the off-stump. This article says as much.

Posted by RandyOZ on (July 16, 2012, 13:13 GMT)

Philip Hughes is a prodigy. Make no mistake this kid is something very, very special. He is carving it up in the (albeit weak) County system and he will be there for the next Ashes, ready to cart the English (sic) to all parts. This guy will become as good, if not better, than Hayden.

Posted by Gordo85 on (July 16, 2012, 13:07 GMT)

Hughes could well be a better player in the shorter format of the game than the longer format. It wouldn't suprise me if he does really well for Australia in an ODI team. However just because I am saying that doesn't mean he will do well as we have seen his Test career get worse or get down.

Posted by   on (July 16, 2012, 13:00 GMT)

That was a great article. I have been following Phillip's career since it began. He is a very determined young man. He will make it in whatever form he is given the right opportunities. By them way, my observations go back nearly 12 years ago when he was a junior cricketer playing senior cricket for Macksville against my local Bellingen side. Don't give up on him.

Posted by   on (July 16, 2012, 12:38 GMT)

Still think he has a future inTest cricket as well.

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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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