Australia in India 2012-13 March 11, 2013

Langer implores selectors to be patient with Hughes


Justin Langer, the former Australia assistant coach, has urged the national selectors to retain Phillip Hughes for the third Test against India in Mohali, despite his awful results against spin in the first two Tests. David Warner also called for patience, saying he had not seen Hughes face much spin bowling before and that it would be only a matter of time before he worked out the best way to handle quality slow bowling.

Hughes is in danger of being dropped when the third Test begins on Thursday after having failed in the tour match in Chennai and then in the first two Tests. His work against spin has been especially disappointing and he has barely looked like being able to score unless the fast men are on; the 51 balls of spin Hughes faced in the two first two Tests brought him six runs and cost him his wicket four times.

But Hughes is far from the only Australian batsman to have struggled in India. Ricky Ponting did not score a century in India until his ninth Test there across five tours and finished with a record of 662 Test runs in India at 26.48. Hughes has not played Test cricket in India until the past three weeks and already he is in a precarious position, having only just regained his Test place for the home series against Sri Lanka following Ponting's retirement.

Already his batting coach Neil d'Costa has attacked Cricket Australia for refusing to allow him to give Hughes a crash course in how to handle Indian conditions before the tour, when Hughes was piling up runs in the ODI side. And Langer, who until late last year was the Australia assistant coach, said patience was required when young batsmen were exposed to new conditions.

"I would be so disappointed if he didn't play the next Test. He has been brilliant again all summer," Langer said in Adelaide. "He is our most exciting and best performed young player and I hope they stick with him. Phil is a young kid who is playing Test cricket in India for the first time and you can't just keep chopping and changing all the time. He has missed out but has shown over time he has the capacity to know how to score runs and work out strategies to score runs."

There is no question that Hughes has been in form this summer. Until the last round of matches he was on top of the Sheffield Shield run tally with 673 runs at 56.08. At the age of 24, Hughes has already compiled 21 first-class hundreds. But he is generally at his best when the ball is coming on to the bat, which is not the case in India. Warner, until last season a New South Wales team-mate of Hughes, said he should be given time to adjust.

"I haven't really seen a lot of spin bowling against Hughesy, so I just think it's more of a time thing and being patient," Warner said. "We all have to score runs and have a job to do. Phil is in a patch at the moment where he isn't scoring as many runs as he would like, but I'm sure if the selectors stick by him he will come good. He is the type of player who always puts runs on the board, especially when he scores a hundred he scores a big hundred."

One of the problems that has afflicted Hughes and the rest of the batsmen on this trip has been a lack of quality spin bowling at Sheffield Shield level, meaning a majority of their experience is against fast men. The Shield pitches in recent years have often been green seamers and matches can be over quickly, with spinners either hardly required or asked to bowl in conditions that are more suitable for the fast bowlers.

This summer in the Sheffield Shield, the top 15 wicket takers are all fast bowlers and the pitches are at their most favourable for the seamers early in the season, when the Test batsmen are more likely to be playing for their states. Warner said to help young batsmen become more accustomed to spin bowling the state teams should consider setting up centre-wicket training sessions when matches finish early, as the Test squad has done over the past two matches in India.

"If you're playing a four day game and the game finishes on day three, why not go out and practice on day four?" Warner said. "You're a professional athlete, you've got the whole thing there for you on day four to practice as much as you want. It's like us having a net out in the middle of the wicket [in India]. You very rarely get that opportunity in Australia. They will be watering the wicket straight away preparing for the next Shield game. It's fantastic to get that opportunity."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mehul on March 13, 2013, 4:20 GMT

    I respect Langer as a player, but i find it difficult to comprehend his so intense support for hughes. He has been given plenty of chances and doesn't really seem to have it for being a good batsmen. If hughes why not guys like Katich or say Lyon? Why were they dropped without such really bad performances? Giving confidence and support to players is really vital and i fully understand, but i cant imagine it being biased or for a selected few despite them being extremely talented,etc.

  • Ujjal on March 13, 2013, 0:03 GMT

    Guys-those who are thinking Hughes is class-yes he is against the very ordinary trundlers in Australia bowling on lifeless flat tracks. He is flashy but he is nothing more than a jumping jack. Cant play Swing found out many times,cant play spin and against hostile pace he is as hopeless as one can be. He was shot out of the team by the express bowling of Harmison and Flintoff.He will be a world beater against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh on special tours organised by the NSP for him to boost his records. Centuries are often misleading - how many chances does he want?He has the ugliest defence to watch squaring up on the pitch all the time. His front play is shocking. Against hostile fast bowling he jumps and puffs his cheeks as if to say - oh my god - I have managed to survive this ball.Unless he changes his style and works really hard on his technique -he will write his autobiography sometime later named as " The saga of a Failed Jumping Jack who never made it with so many Godfathers.

  • Brenton on March 12, 2013, 12:16 GMT

    Kaze, after 20 tests and 32 innings all 3 men, Ponting, Clarke and Hughes had scored about 1500 runs at an average of about 35. Hughes is the best young batsman in Australia at the moment, as were Punter and Clarke in their younger days. Ponting came in to the test team with established players such as Taylor, Waugh brothers, Warne, Healy etc. Clarke came in with Ponting, Hayden, Warne, Mcgrath, Gilchrist etc. Hughes is starting here now in a losing side with Clarke as the only senior player. He needs some time. Give him a break. Hyclass and Mitty2 are 100% correct.

  • Daniel on March 12, 2013, 9:20 GMT

    Like a lot of new batsmen, he entered the world scene with a bang. Once the other nations had a chance to have a look at him he got found out pretty quickly. People still go on about his twin 100s in SAF, yet the selectors wouldn't play him last time SAF were here because they wanted to ease him in against the pop gun pace of SL. He was destroyed by England, wasn't good enough to face up to SAF and is proving a massive disappointment in India. A mediocre average, only 1, count em, 1 century in the 21 tests since his debut, please don't even mention him in the same breath as Ponting.

  • Christopher on March 12, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    Even with the wealth of information available on the net, people continue to be myopic with Hughes.Anyone viewing him in SA in '09 with his twin 100's v Steyn, Ntini,Morkel, Kallis & Harris(1100 Test wickets) & 600 runs in 3 games he scored for Middlesex before joining the Aus squad for the Ashes would be aware that they were viewing an entirely different game when the Ashes began. The highlights are on YouTube. In a recent article on Gavin Robertson on Espn Cricinfo, Hauritz talks about how he was forced to change his game by Ponting, who wanted a Harbijan copy and ended up ruined. Is it too much to suppose that something similar happened to a 20 year old Hughes? His mentor De Costa says that it not only could, but did happen and that he was forced to prepare in a way that was totally unsuited to his game. Despite negative observations, his scores were 36 and 4 caught down the leg side. His 17 bounced well in front of slip and was given out. His confidence & game have never recovered.

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    Just a matter of time? Sure. It only took him three years to work out what to do with a short ball after all.

  • Roo on March 12, 2013, 3:34 GMT

    Doesn't really matter about Hughes now that Watto & Ussie are out of the Test - Hughes now is guaranteed the next 2 Tests so hope he grabs his chances - looks like Smith will be given no.5 spot - unless Wade is fit & they back Haddin as well, unlikely but a possibility...

    Ed Cowan - David Warner - Phillip Hughes - Michael Clarke - Steven Smith - Brad Haddin / Wade - Moises Henriques - Glenn Maxwell / Lyon - Peter Siddle - Mitchell Starc - Xavier Doherty

  • Dummy4 on March 12, 2013, 3:00 GMT

    The thing is that Hughes has also been completely worked out by the English bowlers because he can't play swing either due to his dodgy technique. Do Australia really want to send out a batsman who can't play swing or spin to face Anderson and Swann? Good luck with that.

  • Kaze on March 12, 2013, 1:44 GMT

    @Barnesy4444 Clarke debuted in India and made 151, what on Earth are you talking about ?

  • Sundhar on March 11, 2013, 17:24 GMT

    I wanna present a case here. Yuvraj scored less than 20 in 4 innings during the 2007 tour to Aus, and consequently dropped from the team. That almost put a lid on his Test career. Conversely, Kohli was persisted on in the recent tour to Aus after failing to score big in his first 2 Tests. He repayed the belief by scoring a 50 and a 100 in the next 2 Tests. Both were in their prime during the respective tours, and Aus need to learn a lesson from this. If you think the player has got the skills, you MUST back him in adverse situations. After all, that's what the player needs.

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