Australia A v England XI, Hobart, 3rd day November 19, 2010

Hughes determined to halt England

Phillip Hughes is not part of Australia's squad for the Gabba Test, but he's still keen to do his part to help the national cause less than a week from the start of the Ashes. Hughes was 58 not out at stumps on the third afternoon for Australia A at Bellerive Oval, and his plans for the final day include not only turning around his own form, but also halting England's charge.

It has been a tough start to the summer for Hughes, who was Australia's backup batsman on the Test tour of India in October, but has managed only 56 runs in his two Sheffield Shield games. A big hundred against England would keep him in the minds of the selectors but more importantly for the team cause, it could prevent another win for the in-form visitors.

"They're going to be fired up, they've got momentum behind them," Hughes said. "It's going to be a great contest for all the batsmen in the Australian line-up. When you've got momentum behind you, they're not going to back down. That's why I think tomorrow is a big day for Australia A. If we can keep them out on the field as long as possible then hopefully we can turn that momentum.

"That's something that I've definitely thought about. We'd like to bat as long as we can, and even have a crack with the ball later in the day. But it's going to be tough work, it's not going to be easy early on. We've just got to look a ball at a time."

Hughes began the previous Ashes series as one of Australia's first-choice players but after two disappointing Tests in England he lost his place to Shane Watson, who has been a success in the opening role. Since then, Hughes has played only two Tests as a fill-in - he also had shoulder surgery in May - and when he didn't make the 17-man squad for next week's Test, he knew he had to lift.

"When that happened I was disappointed at the time," Hughes said. "But the sun comes up the next day and you push on. That's just a little hiccup in my career. That's something I'm not even worrying about now. It's great to get a few runs out in the middle. I felt pretty good today. I wouldn't say I felt a 100%. A couple of balls were keeping a tad low throughout the day."

One of the reasons it was difficult to bat was the form of Tim Bresnan, who collected 3 for 25 from nine overs, including the wickets of Australia's Test contenders Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson. Bresnan's strikes took Australia A from 0 for 66 to 3 for 84, and gave England a strong chance of victory on the final day.

"I thought he bowled well," Hughes said. "To go bang, bang, bang like that, it's always a good sign. I thought he bashed the wicket away all day, he was very consistent with his lines. One shot [up] and a couple kept low, I thought he bowled quite straight, good lines."

Bresnan is unlikely to be part of England's side for the series opener next week but he knows that on a long tour of Australia, an opportunity could arise at any moment. He last played Test cricket in the home series against Bangladesh in May, but he has done no harm to his chances of adding a sixth Test cap to his existing collection.

"It's going to be a massive squad effort to win this Ashes," Bresnan said. "I'd be very surprised if the same eleven plays all five games, whether that be injury or form or anything else. You never know what can happen over a long space of time."

A short period of time is of more interest to Bresnan right now. England's batsmen feasted and reached 523 to leave them with a 165-run advantage at stumps, and Bresnan wants to help grab the seven remaining Australia A wickets to give England their second win of the tour, after they beat Western Australia and then drew with South Australia.

"We're in the best position we could be in to win this game, which is what we were striving for when we set out at the start of the game," he said. "We want to win this game, we were not thinking about declaring early and having another innings, we were thinking about winning the game."

They still should achieve their goal, though Phillip Hughes and his colleagues have other plans.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cowee on November 20, 2010, 1:47 GMT

    England is gonna lost this Ashes thank to the press and their submlime complancasy sorry but its the truth cowee

  • David on November 20, 2010, 0:14 GMT

    In my opinion the technical problem to Hughes' batting is that he tends to get caught on his crease a bit too much and this leads to the other problems that he has suffered. For the record Australia will win he Ashes back once our bats get back to some flat batting tracks so they can start to bully the English bowling. If we lose Brisbane then that could be a worry.

  • Harvey on November 19, 2010, 22:44 GMT

    I still wouldnt go as far as to say Watson is a successful opener. He has only had 2 centuries in 26 innings at opener. He is way off the pace of world class openers. Australia need openers to go on to get big scores and help the brittle middle order. The selectors just dont seem prepared to take risks and give a young player an extended chance. That is what they will be needing to do. I guess for Hughes, he may not have to wait long since Katich is 35.

  • Andrew on November 19, 2010, 20:55 GMT

    @popcorn, HeadhammerShark - Hughes is not weak against the short ball, Harmison did do him in during a trial game pre-2009 Ashes, but it wasn't short balls that got Hughes out - rather poor shot selection in the 2009 Ashes, & a pathetic selection process. Why Hughes got dropped after a couple of below tests when North & Hussey have been churning them out regularly beats me. Hughes handled the short ball in SA quite well! I am glad Watson has been given opportunities @ the top of the order - but I think his best position will be @ #3 with Punter dropping to #4. @Phoenixsteve - LOL re floggings! Also LOL re:the Good Guys! Since when has the Poms ever been regarded as the "good guys"?

  • Steve on November 19, 2010, 17:40 GMT

    Jonesy is obviously very anti England! BTW we quit the flogging (even in the colonies) a hundred or so years ago..... It's nice to see an Aussie side finally with a bit of fight - but money is still on England to win this one. As for the ashes... I think it should be closer than a lot of people are thinking? Even a small victory for the good guys will suit this England fan! COME ON ENGLAND!

  • Chris on November 19, 2010, 15:04 GMT

    @Jonesy - think you'll be disappointed cobber

  • Bryn on November 19, 2010, 13:26 GMT

    cant wait till england get flogged in the ashes starting next thursday

  • James on November 19, 2010, 13:05 GMT

    Really? I'd love to see Hughes back in the Aussie side so Broad and Finn can have him hopping about all over the place. Flintoff sorted him out in 2009, and Tremlett did the same thing in the first innings here.

  • Rajaram on November 19, 2010, 11:11 GMT

    If Phil Hughes scores a century tomorrow, and saves Australia th blushes, not only will it do his confidence a world of good, it will also be fitting revenge against the Poms who bounced him out in the Ashes 2009,and threw him out of the opening position. They will no longer think that he is vulnerable to the short ball.

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