Middlesex sign Australian opener

Middlesex have signed Australian left-hand opening batsman Phillip Hughes for the 2009 season.

Hughes, 20, fresh from celebrating a call up to the Australian Test side, will join Middlesex on a short-term contract for the first six weeks of the summer as cover for overseas signing Murali Kartik, who will be absent due to his participation at the IPL tournament.

"To have signed Phillip for the early part of the season is a major coup for Middlesex, as there is no secret of the fact that many respected voices in the game are billing Phillip as one of the most talented young batsmen in world cricket today," Angus Fraser, the director of cricket, said.

"Phillip arrives with us in early April and will be available for our season's opening Championship fixture against Glamorgan at Lord's. The addition of such a top-quality batsman to our top order will prove invaluable in the early part of the season, given the absence of both Andrew Strauss and Owais Shah."

Hughes made his first-class debut at the age of 18, finishing his first season with New South Wales with a first-class average of 62.11 and was instrumental in his side's victory in the Sheffield Shield, with his 116 making him the youngest ever player to score a hundred in the final.

He is currently the second highest run-scorer in this season's Sheffield Shield, scoring 963 runs at an average of 68.78. He won the Bradman young player of the year award of 2009.