Hughes 'a 100-Test player' - Clarke
Phillip Hughes is used to getting bad news from Australia's selectors, having been dropped from the Test team three times, but captain Michael Clarke believes he will become a permanent fixture in Australia's side over the next decade.
In his latest setback, Hughes was this month left out of the one-day squad to tour Zimbabwe, despite less than a week earlier becoming the first Australian to score a List A double-century. Instead of preparing for ODI duties, Hughes has stayed with Australia A, for whom he scored the 202 not out in Darwin, and will captain the side in a four-day game against South Africa A in Townsville this week.
Hughes had appeared the logical candidate to be included in the one-day squad, given that David Warner will miss the Zimbabwe tour to prepare for the birth of his first child. But while Hughes said he was "really disappointed" at being overlooked in the short term, Clarke believes his long-term future should include a lengthy tenure in the national side.
"I think Hughesy is a really good example of someone who continues to score big runs," Clarke told ABC Radio this week. "Look at his first-class record, he's probably got more hundreds than any other player at his age. He's making runs consistently for Australia A, so I think he's doing everything he can to be in the front of the selectors' minds.
"His performances speak for themselves. He's got a bright future. He's a 100-Test player in my opinion. He's just got to get an opportunity now and I'm sure he'll grab it with both hands. But I think in 10 years from now, we'll be talking about Phillip Hughes as one of those players to play 100 Test matches for Australia. He's got the talent, he's got the work ethic.
"I guess what I love most about Hughesy is his passion and want to play for Australia. You ask him to do something, he'll do it if it helps him get in this Australian team. He's a good guy to have around the group. I've always liked him, I've got a lot of respect for him and I know he'll play a lot of cricket for Australia."
But Hughes, 25, has perhaps played less cricket for his country than might have been expected after he scored twin centuries in his second Test in Durban at the age of 20. He has made 26 Test appearances but has added only one more century, and was surprisingly overlooked as a one-day player until early last year, when he emerged with two hundreds in his first ODI series.
Over the past five years, Hughes has struggled to find a permanent place in Australia's Test side. He was axed during the 2009 Ashes tour of England, again after becoming Chris Martin's bunny in the 2011-12 home series against New Zealand, and once more during the 2013 Ashes tour when Warner returned to the side for the third Test.
Although Hughes was back in the squad for this year's tour of South Africa, he did not play a Test, and it remains to be seen whether he will be part of the group to play Pakistan in the UAE in October. Ahead of the South Africa A match starting in Townsville on Thursday, Hughes told reporters that new chairman of selectors Rod Marsh had been supportive but had challenged him to keep piling up the runs.
"I was really disappointed to not get selected for that [Zimbabwe tour], but that's how it is," Hughes said. "All I can do is continue to play some consistent cricket. I'm happy with my game at the moment. I've had a good chat with Rod Marsh and he's been really good.
"That chat stays between me and Rod, but it's about scoring a lot more runs and everything takes care of itself. I spoke to Rod a number of times in the last week and he's been very supportive. They only took 14 to Zimbabwe, so it's not many in the squad. There wasn't really room for me, and that's what he said. It's about going on and scoring a lot more runs and continuing to be consistent."
Despite his outstanding one-day record - he has scored 3473 List A runs at 48.23 - Hughes will find it hard to break into Australia's squad for the upcoming World Cup, with Warner to return to the group. For the time being, his focus is on adding to his 25 first-class centuries over the next few days in Townsville.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale