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Phil Hughes’s presence will benefit Australia in South Africa

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Phil Hughes has replaced Shaun Marsh for Australia’s tour to South Africa © Getty Images

By Sudatta Mukherjee

Though Phil Hughes might have come in because Shaun Marsh pulled out with calf injury, the fact remains that former has a better record than many of the present Australian players touring South Africa. The last time when Australia visited South Africa for Test series, the top two run-scorers for Australia were Michael Clarke and Hughes. In the two Tests, Clarke had scored 166 runs and Hughes 117. But a lot has changed in the last few years. While Hughes played infrequently for Australia, players like David Warner, Chris Rogers and Steven Smith have found their way into the team.

Is Hughes the best replacement for Marsh?

Since the 2012-13 First-Class seasons, Marsh has played 22 innings and scored 480 runs. In comparison, Hughes has played 50 innings and has scored 2,122 runs.  Hughes’s numbers cannot be disputed.  Not only Hughes has experience of playing more First-Class matches, he has had a good outing in South Africa. Indeed, it’s surprising why Hughes was not selected in the first place. In the ongoing 2013-14 season, Marsh has played six matches and scored 275 runs at an average of 34.37, while Hughes, who has played five matches, has scored 549 runs at an average of 61.00. Hughes has been the leading run-scorer in Sheffield Shield this year. Marsh is 24th on the list and has a poor First-Class record in recent times.

Hughes, who scored back-to-back centuries when he made his debut against South Africa, was dropped after letting him play only two Tests against England in England in 2013. He scored an unbeaten 81, but could manage only two runs in his next three innings and was axed. But didn’t the entire Australian team performed badly?

Hughes has to work on his weakness around the off-stump. But as Ian Chappell wrote in MiD-Day, after suffering setbacks in his Test career, Hughes would surely have revamped his technique.

(Sudatta Mukherjee is a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)

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