Australia in South Africa 2013-14 January 30, 2014

Hughes replaces injured Marsh


Phillip Hughes has been given another chance in Australia's Test squad after Shaun Marsh failed to convince the selectors he would recover from his calf injury in time for the warm-up game in South Africa.

The inclusion of Marsh was the most controversial selection in Australia's original 15-man squad for the three-Test tour, given his lack of first-class runs this summer and his poor red-ball record since he was dropped from the Test team two years ago. Hughes appeared especially unfortunate not to be granted a place on the trip after scoring three Sheffield Shield hundreds in five games this season.

However, Marsh picked up a calf injury during the final ODI against England in Adelaide on Australia Day and he was held back from departing with the rest of the Test squad so his fitness could be assessed. The only tour match before the first Test will begin in Potchefstroom on Wednesday and the selectors were unwilling to take Marsh if his fitness could not be guaranteed for that game.

"As Shaun Marsh's calf injury has not improved as much as required over the past four days he has been withdrawn from the Test Squad for the tour of South Africa," the national selector John Inverarity said. "Phillip Hughes had been placed on standby and now comes into the Test squad as a replacement for Shaun. Phillip will head to South Africa as soon as possible."

Hughes now has the opportunity to press his claims for a Test recall with Alex Doolan his main rival for the place in the top six that has become available after the axing of George Bailey. However, it is unclear whether the vacant spot will be at No.3 or at No.6. Initially it seemed that Shane Watson might move down to No.6 but the captain Michael Clarke said before flying to South Africa he wanted Watson to remain at first drop.

Both Hughes and Doolan are considered top order players, although Hughes has been used at No.6 as well as Nos.3 and 4 in the Test team over the past year. He was dropped from the side following the heavy loss in the Ashes Test at Lord's in July, a match in which he managed only 1 in each innings, although in the previous Test at Trent Bridge he had scored a mature 81 not out that was overshadowed by Ashton Agar's near century.

Since being axed in July, Hughes has made 671 first-class runs at the average of 61.00 from 11 innings, including a double-century and two other hundreds this Sheffield Shield season. Marsh, by comparison, had managed only 675 first-class runs at 25.00 since his last Test in January 2012, and appeared to have been selected based largely on his form in the shorter formats.

South Africa has been a productive country for Hughes, who scored two centuries in his second Test in Durban on the 2009 tour and also made 88 at the Wanderers on Australia's most recent trip there in 2011. However, Hughes has never seemed far from the axe and his demotion after the Lord's Test was the third time in his 26-Test career he had been dropped following an extended run in the side.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Scott on February 6, 2014, 19:32 GMT

    @hyclass, odd you mention G Chappell as I believe he once taught that test batsmen should only score through the V between cover and midwicket until 20 runs were made (don't quote me on that number!), so it would seem he's a lot more appreciative of a straight bat and scoring with a straight bat than you would give it credit. Whereas in reality, you can score anywhere from fine leg glance to a back footed square drive through backward point with a straight bat. Roughly 300 of 360 degrees! So, I would disagree that playing with a straight bat limits scoring opportunities, albeit you can't play anything very short with a straight bat. Techniques may be adapting due to the vast differences between the 3 formats, however, the needs of test cricket rarely require improvisation or anything risky to increase run rates.

  • Christopher on February 4, 2014, 10:52 GMT

    This article is based on Hughes for Marsh. By any metric, Hughes is a better choice, so why is their so much emotion? Because many who may have backed Hughes, feel cheated by his continued failure and seek explanations. Insensibly, facts are twisted to fit theories, rather than the reverse, or facts are simply overlooked to denigrate Hughes. I agree, that if one was to look at Hughes playing Tests, after SA '09, the assumptions being espoused would not be implausible. They fail however to explain either his 1st class form, his success under pressure in Shield finals and his form vs the vaunted SA attack and its absolute superiority to the Ashes attack. They imply as fact, assumptions not borne out when researched and they fail to observe the wholesale change to his game on joining the '09 squad or investigate DeCosta's claims. So will he succeed? Perhaps.If he's encouraged to play with freedom, his own way.His Shield form is good, but not quite there. I wish him well.He's Australian.

  • Christopher on February 4, 2014, 10:23 GMT

    With reference to watching the ball @ScottStevo, I recall a spell of failures by Greg Chappell, broken by a double century. When asked what had changed, he explained that he had not been watching the ball from the hand. It is a loss of focus, intensity and purpose, at the critical moment. A batsman taught that technique is paramount, loses focus on scoring intent-the one factor that will wrest advantage back from the bowler, as Hughes did in SA. A willingness to attack, atones for a multitude of sins. In Eng, DeCosta tells us, Hughes was' forced to prepare in a manner that wasn't suited to he or his game on joining the squad'. From that point, his game changes-becomes front on, loses hand, bat and foot speed and trigger movements and he becomes a walking wicket for all types of deliveries.He lacks either adjustment or scoring options and looks like a tail ender. It is assumed that his 1st class success is a sign of lack of quality, rather than his reverting when not in the Test squad.

  • Christopher on February 4, 2014, 10:09 GMT

    @ScottStevo...with due respect, there is far too much specious reasoning in your approach and far too many exceptions, to dismiss the alternatives. If the modern game demonstrates anything, it is that playing straight reduces scoring opportunities, a common method for creating dismissals by bowlers. In an era of three formats, that presents little value. Bradman based his entire game around seeking legside scoring and then filtered options from there. Hughes applies the same method through the offside. I reiterate-An attacking plan, a defensive plan and the courage, stamina and physical ability to execute it. Technique is the least salient. Many kids emulate the style of their heroes, eschewing all coaching. Regardless of how often footage is reviewed, the bowlers still need to execute-something that they often fail at. There is an assumption that plan equals result. I've seen no evidence of improved intelligence or execution, despite a plethora of coaching and associated technology.

  • Scott on February 2, 2014, 12:09 GMT

    @Barsney4444, here's an example for you. Let's say I go to the US and recruit their greatest ever batter to play in my cricket team. What do we know about him - he's got a great eye because he hits a ton, he obviously watches the ball closely as he sees them to hit them, he obviously has great balance and great concentration. Problem is, he's never heard of, or ever seen a game of cricket. I strap some pads on him and tell him to go out there and hit them. How do you think he'll fare????? My guess would be disastrously. Yet, somehow, he has every single one of the traits you deem as the most important aspects of batting. So, why is he doing so poorly????

  • Scott on February 2, 2014, 11:56 GMT

    @Barnsey4444, give it up, man, you're starting to look completely ignorant...

  • Brenton on February 2, 2014, 11:42 GMT

    Scootstevo, So you're saying technique is more important than concentrating every ball? And you're having trouble following my point!!

  • Scott on February 2, 2014, 11:07 GMT

    @Barnsey4444, not sure where you're going here, mate. Now you've changed from it's good to watch the ball whilst batting, to a young guy of 20 losing concentration in the field in front of a huge crowd the likes of which he's never encountered! I hate to tell you this, again, but watching the ball whilst batting IS a given - and I'd be very surprised if batsman weren't!! Concentration and focus are important, and it's when you have lapses in these that you want your technique, learned and drilled into you from an early age, to be there on auto pilot, once again highlighting my point, that it is the single most important aspect of batting...

  • Brenton on February 2, 2014, 10:49 GMT

    Scottstevo, earlier on you said "watching the ball is a bit of a given in ball sports". IT IS NOT! Just the other night 20 year old Muirhead admitted Boof had to keep reminding him to not let his mind wander on the field during an international game! Of course basic technique needs to be taught, THAT is a given. But cricket is 90% mental and training the young mind to learn how to concentrate and focus is the most important thing.

  • Scott on February 2, 2014, 9:49 GMT

    @Barnsey4444, Here's the article

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