India v Australia, 3rd Test, Mohali, 2nd day March 15, 2013

Cowan progresses, Hughes regresses

While Ed Cowan has found the answer to what works for him in spinning Indian conditions in this Test series, Phillip Hughes seems to have less and less of an idea of the same with every passing innings
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The past few weeks in India have been a learning experience for Ed Cowan. For Phillip Hughes they have just been an experience. It is okay for Australian batsmen to struggle on their first tour of India, as long as they show signs of improvement. As long as they prove they are absorbing the lessons as they go. Cowan and Hughes began this tour as novices in India. Cowan has progressed to become Australia's second-best batsman in the series. Hughes has not only failed to improve, he has gone backwards.

It is a startling comparison. Aside from a cheap first-innings lbw to a delivery that pitched outside leg in Hyderabad, Cowan's scores and balls faced have grown in every innings: 29 off 45, 32 off 97, 44 off 150, 86 off 238. Meanwhile, Hughes has looked worse and worse against spin and his only double-figure score came because fast men were operating. He scored six from 15 balls of spin in his first innings of the series and since then has managed two runs from 67 deliveries of spin. He did his homework during the week but couldn't put theory into action.

Whatever plan Hughes is working to has failed. Perhaps it is a failure of the coaching staff, but then he has looked much better in the nets than in the Tests. After five innings in India he is still as shaky using his feet as a newborn calf. The team's batting coach Michael di Venuto noted during the week that it's easier to advance when the ball is spinning in than away as the body can provide a second line of defence. But Hughes remains glued to the crease against left-arm orthodox bowlers. He was also unable to pierce the stacked leg-side field and unwilling to hit against the spin to off, perhaps rightly so.

His judgment of length and drift is poor and he struggles to pick the ball out of the hand: he left a carrom ball from R Ashwin on the second day in Mohali that fizzed perilously close to his off stump. Hughes did show patience and eventually nudged a couple of singles but the way he looked, it was only a matter of time until the spinners got him. In the end it was a ball turning down leg that he gloved behind that cost him his wicket, not the most lethal of deliveries but one that, in this form, Hughes was unable to put away.

It left Hughes with 27 runs at 5.40 in this series. He would almost certainly have sat out this match but for Shane Watson's departure and Usman Khawaja's detention. His lack of improvement makes it impossible to see how he can be picked for the next Test in Delhi, given the likelihood of a raging turner. However, he creates a dilemma for the selectors, because he should be of more use in the Ashes in English conditions. But will he get there or will his replacement thrive - as Steven Smith has done in Mohali - and keep him out?

At least the visible improvement from Cowan has relieved the selectors of any doubts about his position, although he is so well-regarded by John Inverarity and Co that they had few anyway. Still, a lean Indian series and an average dipping down into the 20s might have tested their patience.

Phillip Hughes scored six from 15 balls of spin in his first innings of the series and since then has managed two runs from 67 deliveries of spin. He did his homework during the week but couldn't put theory into action

Cowan has altered his plans since the start of the series, eschewing the aggressive approach that he used in the first innings in Chennai and instead placing a million-dollar price on his wicket. It was a conscious shift. Cowan's response to the coach Mickey Arthur's now infamous homework task was to explain that he wanted to be accountable for batting a long period of time. The team has enough stroke-makers. A crease-occupier, which is a role that comes more naturally to Cowan, provides important balance.

By surviving for 238 deliveries in the first innings in Mohali, Cowan lived up to his words. He has now faced 543 balls in the series, more than any other batsman from either team, including his captain Michael Clarke, who has faced 515. Some critics will argue that Cowan's slow tempo did not suit a match Australia must win to keep the series alive. But that ignores the basic tenet of playing your own game. The rest of Australia's order is filled with faster scorers. Cowan has done his job if he gives them a stable partner.

Certainly he had his share of luck in this innings, although he was due it. A couple of edges evaded first slip and Cheteshwar Pujara at silly point couldn't hang on to another chance. But at least those chances came from Cowan playing his natural style, not trying to be something he is not. That brought him undone in the first innings of the series, when he lofted Harbhajan Singh for six down the ground and then was stumped dancing down the pitch to attempt another.

"My plans have almost come full circle," Cowan said after play. "Coming over here I had it in my mind that I needed to put pressure on the spinners by attacking them ... my game plan has changed from putting pressure on them to putting pressure on them by not letting them get me out. I'm not saying that attacking the spinners wouldn't have worked but I don't think that's my job. I'm at peace with the fact that I've got to grind them out over here."

Cowan guards his stumps carefully. He doesn't mind if dots build up, but when loose balls arrive he dispatches them. He contributes to his own luck by challenging India's fielders to stay alert for long periods. When Hughes is in, they are on guard every delivery, confident that a wicket is imminent. Hughes tries to be patient but cannot get the bad balls away.

In other words, Cowan has discovered what works in the challenging Indian conditions, and the answer is his natural game. Hughes appears not to have a natural game against spin. He cannot regress any further. The question is, will he ever learn?

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • ozwriter on March 16, 2013, 21:58 GMT

    also its premature and incredulously optimistic comparing hughes to amla, clarke, ponting, and cook. compare like for like, at best hughes can be compared with cowan, s marsh, and other batsmen of similar ilk. the mistake a lot of ppl are making is assuming a shield player is a good test player. some just don't cut it at test level. hughes, i'm afraid, is one of them.

  • on March 16, 2013, 11:26 GMT

    @ostraya I'm afraid you don't have any idea what you're talking about. Hughes was dropped twice in his career already and is the best performed batsman in Australia domestic cricket at the moment (he is is the leading run-scorer in both the Sheffield Shield and Ryobi Cup bar Ponting who is retired). Cook was never dropped but failed many times in his career before the 2010/11 Ashes. In many series, he did worse than Hughes. Your argument is lacking in any evidence. Secondly, how has Hughes not performed? He scored two 80's against Sri Lanka in test cricket, 2 centuries against Sri Lanka (match-winning) and 1 80 against West Indies. He was the best-performed batsman in the summer. He hasn't got this chance by a lucky break. He worked very hard and is performing better than any other domestic batsman in the country. Few have achieved what he has by his age (24 years old). Ponting averaged 25 in India.It's fine to disagree but please look up the evidence first and base an argument on that

  • IMJUSTANOTHERGUY on March 16, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    Joe burns should be playing. he has shot up from no where to be one of australias best batsmen atm

  • ozwriter on March 16, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    @enilno. I beg to differ. amla and clarke were both dropped and made their way back into team after they were significantly improved. cook is only in his mid 20s now and can't recall him being dropped. hughes on the other hand has done nothing to deserve another chance, and this lucky break has proven to be an unlucky one because it highlights his inability and absolutely cluelessness with quality spin bowling. he needs to be dropped and dropped indefinitely.

  • Tumbarumbar on March 16, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    @ToTellUTheTruth, by your reckoning Michael Clarke had his first decent innings in over 12 months in the first innings when he was out for a chance less first ball duck and pretty much every batsman who played the game of test cricket before the early 90s when strike rates in the 30s were fairly common was rubbish. Strike rates were so irrelevant they weren't even kept and it was far from unusual to see a batsman soak up 100s of deliveries grinding out runs. When the West Indian quicks could bowl 6 short balls an over it made for slow going.

  • on March 16, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    @ToTellUTheTruth, There may not be formal stats for this, but a good way to read the effectiveness of openers in a Test is the match state when they get dismissed. The state of the Aussie team when Cowan got out was 4-198 off 78 overs. That's not a bad position, and 86 out of a total of 198 is a decent contribution. It also means Cowan nearly got to the 2nd new ball. It may not be a big 100, but it's a solid contribution. Also, consider the level of fatigue in the Indian bowlers. How many runs do you think Starc would have scored if Cowan hadn't soaked up all those deliveries?

  • Freak7820 on March 16, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    Why does Hughes keep getting chances in the Australian test team?

    He just can't cut it at Test level against stronger teams.

    You might as well play Doolan, Khawaja, David Hussey as the #3..

  • Barnesy4444 on March 16, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    Gee, who would have thought the experiment of playing a young opening batsman in the middle order, in totally foreign conditions, in a losing side with only1 senior player, only 1 tour match and 1 week to prepare, would fail? He will be a different player if facing pace/medium on normal pitches. He still needs to be selected for England. Ponting's first tour of India netted an average of only 3.4, and he'd played over 40 tests at that stage in a dominating team! After his 2001 disaster they actually moved him to his more suited position, number 3. Maybe they should move Hughes back to open where he belongs? Contrary to thought Hughes did not get "worked out" by Flintoff in 2009, he was only given 3 innings for 2 starts and one wasn't even out!

  • on March 16, 2013, 3:09 GMT

    I always like ESPN cricinfo. Because it is one of the best Entertain Channel.

  • mike_b on March 16, 2013, 2:14 GMT

    @Pras_Punter A good fast bowling 4 in the team you selected.However I believe you can't have Moises as a 7 bat & 5th bowler.It doesn't work at test level.He needs to be a top 6 bat &/or a top 4 bowler He MUST be able to hold his position with a specialist skill.For his own state of mind he needs to know his main role in the team.These bits 'n pieces blokes(G.Miller,P.Willey,S.O'Donnell etc)don't cut it at test level.Similarly our keeper should bat 7 so he knows his main job is to keep well!That's how we treated Gillie & the bonus is it let him bat with more freedom!So swap Moises to 6 & Wade/Haddin to 7.It seems simple but actually makes a big difference to the players mindsets.Personally I think Smith should be there as it's known he's a good player of spin & Swann is a quality spinner.I think Agar will come along & he can bat well in the lower order-at 19 he's a star in the making.My team: Cowan Warner Watto MC Kawaja Smith Wade Patto Starc Agar Bird-that's if Watto is bowling!

  • ozwriter on March 16, 2013, 21:58 GMT

    also its premature and incredulously optimistic comparing hughes to amla, clarke, ponting, and cook. compare like for like, at best hughes can be compared with cowan, s marsh, and other batsmen of similar ilk. the mistake a lot of ppl are making is assuming a shield player is a good test player. some just don't cut it at test level. hughes, i'm afraid, is one of them.

  • on March 16, 2013, 11:26 GMT

    @ostraya I'm afraid you don't have any idea what you're talking about. Hughes was dropped twice in his career already and is the best performed batsman in Australia domestic cricket at the moment (he is is the leading run-scorer in both the Sheffield Shield and Ryobi Cup bar Ponting who is retired). Cook was never dropped but failed many times in his career before the 2010/11 Ashes. In many series, he did worse than Hughes. Your argument is lacking in any evidence. Secondly, how has Hughes not performed? He scored two 80's against Sri Lanka in test cricket, 2 centuries against Sri Lanka (match-winning) and 1 80 against West Indies. He was the best-performed batsman in the summer. He hasn't got this chance by a lucky break. He worked very hard and is performing better than any other domestic batsman in the country. Few have achieved what he has by his age (24 years old). Ponting averaged 25 in India.It's fine to disagree but please look up the evidence first and base an argument on that

  • IMJUSTANOTHERGUY on March 16, 2013, 9:15 GMT

    Joe burns should be playing. he has shot up from no where to be one of australias best batsmen atm

  • ozwriter on March 16, 2013, 7:54 GMT

    @enilno. I beg to differ. amla and clarke were both dropped and made their way back into team after they were significantly improved. cook is only in his mid 20s now and can't recall him being dropped. hughes on the other hand has done nothing to deserve another chance, and this lucky break has proven to be an unlucky one because it highlights his inability and absolutely cluelessness with quality spin bowling. he needs to be dropped and dropped indefinitely.

  • Tumbarumbar on March 16, 2013, 6:05 GMT

    @ToTellUTheTruth, by your reckoning Michael Clarke had his first decent innings in over 12 months in the first innings when he was out for a chance less first ball duck and pretty much every batsman who played the game of test cricket before the early 90s when strike rates in the 30s were fairly common was rubbish. Strike rates were so irrelevant they weren't even kept and it was far from unusual to see a batsman soak up 100s of deliveries grinding out runs. When the West Indian quicks could bowl 6 short balls an over it made for slow going.

  • on March 16, 2013, 5:23 GMT

    @ToTellUTheTruth, There may not be formal stats for this, but a good way to read the effectiveness of openers in a Test is the match state when they get dismissed. The state of the Aussie team when Cowan got out was 4-198 off 78 overs. That's not a bad position, and 86 out of a total of 198 is a decent contribution. It also means Cowan nearly got to the 2nd new ball. It may not be a big 100, but it's a solid contribution. Also, consider the level of fatigue in the Indian bowlers. How many runs do you think Starc would have scored if Cowan hadn't soaked up all those deliveries?

  • Freak7820 on March 16, 2013, 5:06 GMT

    Why does Hughes keep getting chances in the Australian test team?

    He just can't cut it at Test level against stronger teams.

    You might as well play Doolan, Khawaja, David Hussey as the #3..

  • Barnesy4444 on March 16, 2013, 3:26 GMT

    Gee, who would have thought the experiment of playing a young opening batsman in the middle order, in totally foreign conditions, in a losing side with only1 senior player, only 1 tour match and 1 week to prepare, would fail? He will be a different player if facing pace/medium on normal pitches. He still needs to be selected for England. Ponting's first tour of India netted an average of only 3.4, and he'd played over 40 tests at that stage in a dominating team! After his 2001 disaster they actually moved him to his more suited position, number 3. Maybe they should move Hughes back to open where he belongs? Contrary to thought Hughes did not get "worked out" by Flintoff in 2009, he was only given 3 innings for 2 starts and one wasn't even out!

  • on March 16, 2013, 3:09 GMT

    I always like ESPN cricinfo. Because it is one of the best Entertain Channel.

  • mike_b on March 16, 2013, 2:14 GMT

    @Pras_Punter A good fast bowling 4 in the team you selected.However I believe you can't have Moises as a 7 bat & 5th bowler.It doesn't work at test level.He needs to be a top 6 bat &/or a top 4 bowler He MUST be able to hold his position with a specialist skill.For his own state of mind he needs to know his main role in the team.These bits 'n pieces blokes(G.Miller,P.Willey,S.O'Donnell etc)don't cut it at test level.Similarly our keeper should bat 7 so he knows his main job is to keep well!That's how we treated Gillie & the bonus is it let him bat with more freedom!So swap Moises to 6 & Wade/Haddin to 7.It seems simple but actually makes a big difference to the players mindsets.Personally I think Smith should be there as it's known he's a good player of spin & Swann is a quality spinner.I think Agar will come along & he can bat well in the lower order-at 19 he's a star in the making.My team: Cowan Warner Watto MC Kawaja Smith Wade Patto Starc Agar Bird-that's if Watto is bowling!

  • Chris_Howard on March 15, 2013, 23:19 GMT

    To those bagging Cowan for 3 chances forget how much luck plays a part in cricket. Often the luck goes the away - a poor umpiring decision, a blinding catch - so when you're luck is in, you run with it, as Cowan did.

    What's more, a couple of those were only half chances anyway that the writer has mentioned as "a couple of edges evaded slips". They hardly count as genuine chances as respondents here are trying to turn them into. On that count, any ball that goes anywhere near a fielder, just misses the stumps, or is just out of line on the pads should count as a chance. For most batsmen, there's dozens of those for any long innings.

    Cowan gave one chance, a drop by Pujara. So to other respondents, please stop bagging his innings as being overrated for "3 chances given".

  • Chris_Howard on March 15, 2013, 23:15 GMT

    Hughes needs to join a domestic league in India for a season. Except, CA doesn't let players do that sort of thing anymore. Players get so dictated to about when and where to play, that they don't get a chance to work on their game they way they know they need to.

  • on March 15, 2013, 22:49 GMT

    Hughes has been very disappointing this series but I still have faith in him. I can't think of too many players at the age of 24 who were at the top of the game. A quick glance at recent history shows that Alastair Cook, Michael Clarke, Hashim Amla, Steve Waugh, AB de Villiers (to name a few) four of whom are currently considered the best batsman in the game were poor at best in their early 20's. I've been watching cricket since the beginning of Amla's, Clarke's and Cook's careers and I remember my frustration every time they got out. Many times they looked terrible and I recall thinking they were useless and asking when they would be dropped. However, suddenly, and this happens to many batsman between 26-30 years of age, they become superstars. They fight from a position of nearly being dropped to scoring runs like machines. I have a high opinion of Virat Kohli who is doing well at a young age but I think his father's death changed him for the better. We need to have faith in Hughes.

  • on March 15, 2013, 22:21 GMT

    I think the argument that Hughes will do better in the Ashes is a dodgy one, considering that England have the bloke who is widely considered one of the best spinners in world cricket at the moment. If he comes to the crease Cook won't have to think too hard about which bowler should have a go at him.

  • ToTellUTheTruth on March 15, 2013, 21:30 GMT

    Ahem...shouldn't you be saying something different than "Cowan has discovered what works in the challenging Indian conditions"...to, may be like...."Cowan has discovered what works in the challenging Test Match arena..."?

    Looks like you Ozs are all alike. Now that this guy started dead batting every ball, the stats have changed to the number of balls faced by each batsman to determine how good they are? Is there a STAT for that? The way you write, it sounds like, surviving the bowling is the biggest deal. Come on man. Dead batting for 238 balls and scoring 86 runs, while being dropped thrice....are you serious?

    You seem to have a soft corner for Cowan. Please keep that to yourself. This guy is at best suited for Aus domestic cricket and writing something.

  • on March 15, 2013, 20:58 GMT

    Cowan has always been a grafter and he played very well today. My Ashes squad: Cowan, Warner, Watson, Clarke, Doolan, Haddin/Paine, D Hussey, Pattinson, Bird, Starc, Siddle, Hendiques, Lyon, Smith, Faulkner, Hopes

  • Cpt.Meanster on March 15, 2013, 19:32 GMT

    Progressed ? Sure, when you can be dropped by fielders 3 times on the trot, then yeah, I guess you have progressed indeed. Ahem, Cowan is one of those gritty and irritating batsmen of old vintage. What was admirable from him was his ability to drop anchor and forget about everything happening around him. Hughes on the other hand is unfit to play any form of international cricket. I can't believe the Mumbai Indians have chosen him to represent the club this coming IPL season. He will be a no-show in T20 cricket as well. Hughes, go back to your domestic cricket and be there forever. Cause, that's where you belong sir.

  • blink182alex on March 15, 2013, 19:16 GMT

    I had a dream that Steve Smith would make 50 last night, bit weird.

    Seems a flat pitch, going into day 3 it would need a big collapse for this match to be won by someone, and if one team is capable of being rolled out its Australia, i expect India to pile on over 400.

  • Ragav999 on March 15, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    @Pras_Punter: At last, I found someone who wants to stop playing spinners just for the sake of playing one. The team selected by you is fantastic in terms of bowling, probably need couple of good batsman in place of Khawaja/Watson as they have not set the world on fire with their batting, especially Watson.

  • on March 15, 2013, 17:48 GMT

    Australia are better off playing with 10 players rather than including hughes to just make up the 11, this man has been plain useless. When can aussies post a 1st innings total of 400 + ? i was hoping for it seeing the 139 run partnership for 1st wkt.

  • on March 15, 2013, 17:04 GMT

    why are we not seeing Cosgrove, Doolan and Burns play

  • SevereCritic on March 15, 2013, 16:35 GMT

    Phil Hughes reminds me of Ponting vs Spin in India 2001. Ponting made Hardbhajan's career. And Hughes is gifting wickets to Aswin and Ojha.

  • B.C.G on March 15, 2013, 16:24 GMT

    @hyclass-"I withdraw my support for Hughes and for Australian cricket from this point."A true test of a fan(anatic) is how he responds when his side fails.The Aussies have got to remember the 80s & hope for the best instead of ditching their team in these trying times.All is not gloom you know.At home,OZ seem invincible which was not the case in the 80s.NZL,WI,ENG won down under & till today I can't understand how India failed to win in 1985.

  • SamRoy on March 15, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    Honestly, I think this is not an intelligent article. Cowan was dropped thrice; once each in the thirties, sixties and in the eighties and two of them were straight forward. I still think he is a poor player of quality spin on spinning surfaces and doesn't play swing bowling all that well. Hasn't improved at all in my book.

  • Dravid_Pujara_Gravitas on March 15, 2013, 16:20 GMT

    Brydon, while Cowan did show lot of fight (throughout the series), I wouldn't call an 86 with three lives as progress. His innings could easily have read a 20 or a 30 or a 40. Nobody should hold grudge against a batsmen for making the most of fielders' largesse. But, to convince ourselves that 86 off 3 missed chances as progress, is not healthy, IMO.

  • PrasPunter on March 15, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    I would say it is highly unfair to criticize Eddy who has put a very high price on his wicket today - really a gutsy knock !! Australian sport is all about guts, steel, resolve and what not . Atleast this knock would silence Watto who would want to open !! For a moment , hopes flew very high when Warner and Ed were milking runs, but alas , we blew it away after such a nice start !! Hope that Smith and the tailenders push it beyond 300+ and bowlers rise to the occasion !! My Ashes line up - Eddy, Warner, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja, Haddin/Wade, Moisy, Pattinson, Bird, Starc and Siddle ( yes , I dont want to play a spinner - I mean it ).

  • FormerMiner on March 15, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    It is anybody's guess if Hughes will ever learn. However, before I rush to judgment or even sarcastically pose the question of his ability, I'd consider the following. Hughes came to this series with about 1300 runs at 36 with 3 centuries behind a spectacular overseas debut. His tour of India has the following line of scores; 6, 0, 19, 0, 2.

    In an another era, another young batsman came to India behind about 2500 runs in 40 test matches with 7 centuries averaging 45.83 in a series proclaimed a very Star Trekky "Final Frontier"! His line of scores - 0, 6, 0, 0, 11! I recall such questions posed to him - will he ever learn? In response, this batsman went on to aggregate more runs than any Australian ever did and is arguably among the greatest ever to take guard on the crease. He is Ricky Ponting and the series was the Border-Gavaskar trophy of 2001!

  • Nampally on March 15, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    Brydon, I had predicted in your column yesterday that Smith is a fine young batsman who is also a brilliant fielder & that he will succeed in scoring runs. I was not disappointed because Smith literally saved the Aussies & is still there with unbeaten 58!.As for Cowan he rode on luck with so many chances- by Dhoni, Kohli & Pujara, all dropped. Catches win matches. Indian catching was very poor.Viru was missed in slips. As for Arthur & Clarke's homework assignments, how did Clarke failed to do his homework by jumping out to the first ball & getting stumped. Was this not an irresponsible shot from a guy who was involved in suspending 4 of his players? One lesson to be learnt here is "You should practice what you preach before questioning others on their responibility". I least expected this of Clarke. As for the match, it is heading for a draw with 2 days left & 3 innings + to be completed. I think the Aussies did very well & India blew themselves out of the match with dropped catches.

  • hyclass on March 15, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    Its the end for Hughes. Whenever I'm faced with a crisis, I adhere to the 'no guts, no glory' intelligent attack mantra. He had nothing to lose by attacking and his entire game is founded upon it. He has only ever succeeded when he's attacked and failed when his S/R has fallen below 45 for any period of time. That he hasn't observed and acted on that in over 3 years is beyond comprehension. His mindless pursuit of technical servitude, has rendered him un-selectable and in my opinion, he seems incapable of modifying his mental approach and applying fierce mental observation to the task at hand. In this way , he has ruined his own career. The Hughes who played v SA and a truly great attack on their home turf in 2009 was a once in a generation player. Whatever and whoever was behind the subsequent changes before the England '09 Ashes is now so distant as to be irrelevant.I withdraw my support for Hughes and for Australian cricket from this point. There is more to life than this mediocrity

  • on March 15, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    "He did his homework during the week but couldn't put theory into action." Mr. Coverdale.. You need to atleast give credit to the the cricinfo fan who came up with that..

  • Apocalypse_EX on March 15, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    The fact is that this will be the 3rd time that Hughes will be dropped and the 6th if you count the times where he has been called in as a replacement. The inevitable drop in the Indian tour may permanantly damage his already low confidence. The only team he has succeeded against is South Africa and he was protected from them the last time. He has struggled against shortballs, Chris Martin, leg-side deliveries and now spin, the former two responsible for each of his axings as of yet. Its true that Ponting struggled against Harbhajan in 2001 but will the selectors have faith in him like they had in Ponting (who repaid their faith with a decent series in England the same year)? On a lighter note Australia's no.3 spot seems almost jinxed (Khawaja, Marsh, Watson, Hughes, Clarke) while people batting at 5 have flourished with Hussey, Clarke and Smith (so far).

  • Webba84 on March 15, 2013, 14:45 GMT

    Warner and Cowan are two Aussie batsmen who have earned their place by showing they can learn.

  • Mad_Hamish on March 15, 2013, 14:28 GMT

    What exactly is the evidence that Hughes will be useful in England? His average of 19 over there in 2009 straight after his debut series in RSA? His average of 16 vs England in Aus in 2010-11? The fact that the selectors didn't think he was worth the risk of playing him against RSA?

  • Kookaburra_balls on March 15, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    Yep....Andrew. Couldn't agree more. I just wonder whether CA will treat Hughes in the same manner as Marsh. 70 balls, 2 runs, 5 outs. I hope so, at least they then couldn't possibly be criticized for inconsistency huh!

  • on March 15, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    No Brydon I don't think Hughes will learn. He is a liability at the moment and needs to be given a long rest on the sidelines to rebuild his game. Cowan is fantastic in this side and has been a great foil to Warner, who needs to learn how to pace a test innings - though he is nearly there.

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  • on March 15, 2013, 14:04 GMT

    No Brydon I don't think Hughes will learn. He is a liability at the moment and needs to be given a long rest on the sidelines to rebuild his game. Cowan is fantastic in this side and has been a great foil to Warner, who needs to learn how to pace a test innings - though he is nearly there.

  • Kookaburra_balls on March 15, 2013, 14:22 GMT

    Yep....Andrew. Couldn't agree more. I just wonder whether CA will treat Hughes in the same manner as Marsh. 70 balls, 2 runs, 5 outs. I hope so, at least they then couldn't possibly be criticized for inconsistency huh!

  • Mad_Hamish on March 15, 2013, 14:28 GMT

    What exactly is the evidence that Hughes will be useful in England? His average of 19 over there in 2009 straight after his debut series in RSA? His average of 16 vs England in Aus in 2010-11? The fact that the selectors didn't think he was worth the risk of playing him against RSA?

  • Webba84 on March 15, 2013, 14:45 GMT

    Warner and Cowan are two Aussie batsmen who have earned their place by showing they can learn.

  • Apocalypse_EX on March 15, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    The fact is that this will be the 3rd time that Hughes will be dropped and the 6th if you count the times where he has been called in as a replacement. The inevitable drop in the Indian tour may permanantly damage his already low confidence. The only team he has succeeded against is South Africa and he was protected from them the last time. He has struggled against shortballs, Chris Martin, leg-side deliveries and now spin, the former two responsible for each of his axings as of yet. Its true that Ponting struggled against Harbhajan in 2001 but will the selectors have faith in him like they had in Ponting (who repaid their faith with a decent series in England the same year)? On a lighter note Australia's no.3 spot seems almost jinxed (Khawaja, Marsh, Watson, Hughes, Clarke) while people batting at 5 have flourished with Hussey, Clarke and Smith (so far).

  • on March 15, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    "He did his homework during the week but couldn't put theory into action." Mr. Coverdale.. You need to atleast give credit to the the cricinfo fan who came up with that..

  • hyclass on March 15, 2013, 15:23 GMT

    Its the end for Hughes. Whenever I'm faced with a crisis, I adhere to the 'no guts, no glory' intelligent attack mantra. He had nothing to lose by attacking and his entire game is founded upon it. He has only ever succeeded when he's attacked and failed when his S/R has fallen below 45 for any period of time. That he hasn't observed and acted on that in over 3 years is beyond comprehension. His mindless pursuit of technical servitude, has rendered him un-selectable and in my opinion, he seems incapable of modifying his mental approach and applying fierce mental observation to the task at hand. In this way , he has ruined his own career. The Hughes who played v SA and a truly great attack on their home turf in 2009 was a once in a generation player. Whatever and whoever was behind the subsequent changes before the England '09 Ashes is now so distant as to be irrelevant.I withdraw my support for Hughes and for Australian cricket from this point. There is more to life than this mediocrity

  • Nampally on March 15, 2013, 15:24 GMT

    Brydon, I had predicted in your column yesterday that Smith is a fine young batsman who is also a brilliant fielder & that he will succeed in scoring runs. I was not disappointed because Smith literally saved the Aussies & is still there with unbeaten 58!.As for Cowan he rode on luck with so many chances- by Dhoni, Kohli & Pujara, all dropped. Catches win matches. Indian catching was very poor.Viru was missed in slips. As for Arthur & Clarke's homework assignments, how did Clarke failed to do his homework by jumping out to the first ball & getting stumped. Was this not an irresponsible shot from a guy who was involved in suspending 4 of his players? One lesson to be learnt here is "You should practice what you preach before questioning others on their responibility". I least expected this of Clarke. As for the match, it is heading for a draw with 2 days left & 3 innings + to be completed. I think the Aussies did very well & India blew themselves out of the match with dropped catches.

  • FormerMiner on March 15, 2013, 15:34 GMT

    It is anybody's guess if Hughes will ever learn. However, before I rush to judgment or even sarcastically pose the question of his ability, I'd consider the following. Hughes came to this series with about 1300 runs at 36 with 3 centuries behind a spectacular overseas debut. His tour of India has the following line of scores; 6, 0, 19, 0, 2.

    In an another era, another young batsman came to India behind about 2500 runs in 40 test matches with 7 centuries averaging 45.83 in a series proclaimed a very Star Trekky "Final Frontier"! His line of scores - 0, 6, 0, 0, 11! I recall such questions posed to him - will he ever learn? In response, this batsman went on to aggregate more runs than any Australian ever did and is arguably among the greatest ever to take guard on the crease. He is Ricky Ponting and the series was the Border-Gavaskar trophy of 2001!

  • PrasPunter on March 15, 2013, 16:14 GMT

    I would say it is highly unfair to criticize Eddy who has put a very high price on his wicket today - really a gutsy knock !! Australian sport is all about guts, steel, resolve and what not . Atleast this knock would silence Watto who would want to open !! For a moment , hopes flew very high when Warner and Ed were milking runs, but alas , we blew it away after such a nice start !! Hope that Smith and the tailenders push it beyond 300+ and bowlers rise to the occasion !! My Ashes line up - Eddy, Warner, Watson, Clarke, Khawaja, Haddin/Wade, Moisy, Pattinson, Bird, Starc and Siddle ( yes , I dont want to play a spinner - I mean it ).