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Melbourne: Aug 25, 2014
Not for the first time, opener Phil Hughes finds himself warming the Australian bench despite injured skipper Michael Clarke saying last week that it’s not possible for the left-hander to have had a better pre-season campaign. Hughes, who has 26 Tests and 20 One-Day Internationals (ODIs) to his name, will not play in Australia‘s opening match of their ODI tri-series with Zimbabwe and South Africa, which begins Monday, according to Cricket Australia (CA) website.
Instead, the selectors have opted to move wicketkeeper Brad Haddin up to the top of the order and pick a side featuring just four specialist batsmen — Aaron Finch, George Bailey, Steve Smith and Glenn Maxwell. It’s just the latest selection snub for Hughes, who has yo-yoed in and out of the Australian team since his debut in 2009.
In February 2009, after piling on the runs for New South Wales (NSW) in Sheffield Shield cricket, an Australian domestic tournament, Hughes earned a call-up for Australia’s Test tour of South Africa.
He fell for a duck in his first innings, but in the next match he became the youngest man in history to score hundreds in each innings of a Test match, and finished the series with 415 runs at an average of 69.16.
In July 2009, after scoring 57 runs in three innings at the start of his maiden Ashes series, Hughes was spectacularly dropped for the third Test to make way for Shane Watson. His axing came just three Tests after his history-making twin centuries in Durban.
More prolific run-scoring in domestic cricket, in January 2010, for NSW earned him a recall to the Test side for the New Year’s Test against Pakistan. Two Tests later, and despite scoring an unbeaten 86 from 75 balls in Australia’s win over New Zealand in Wellington, Hughes was dropped to again make way for Watson.
Following a series-ending injury to Simon Katich, Hughes was recalled for the final three Tests of the home Ashes series in December 2010. He finished the series with 97 runs at an average of 16.16 as Australia gave up the Ashes on home soil for the first time in 24 years.
Despite his poor from, Hughes held his place for Australia’s tour of Sri Lanka and scored a century in the third Test in Colombo. Almost comically, an out-of-form Hughes was dismissed in the same manner in four innings in a row against New Zealand in December 2011.
Caught four times by Martin Guptill off the bowling of Chris Martin, Hughes was dropped for the series against India, just two Tests after he scored 88 in Australia’s famous Test win over South Africa in Johannesburg. A year later, finding form again for his new state South Australia, Hughes was called in to replace the retired Ricky Ponting for the home Test series against Sri Lanka.
Batting in the unfamiliar position of No.3, he posted scores of 86 and 87 and followed it up with a century on ODI debut, the first Australian to do so.
His good ODI form continued with an unbeaten 138 in Hobart against the Sri Lankans before a disastrous tour of India. Hughes failed miserably in the subcontinent, at one stage being dismissed four times in 37 balls without scoring a run, before failing again in Australia’s disappointing ICC Champions Trophy campaign in Britain. But he survived the chop and took his place in Australia’s side for the first Ashes Test against England.
Batting at No.6 in the first Test at Trent Bridge, Hughes posted a composed 81 not out as Ashton Agar scored a memorable 98 in Australia’s narrow loss. Hughes was elevated to No.4 for the second Test at Lord’s but, after scoring just two runs across both innings, he was dropped and hasn’t played Test cricket since.
Hughes held his place in Australia’s ODI squad for the seven-match tour of India. He started the series with scores of 43 and 87 before his form dropped away and he finished the series with an average of 33.16.
Hughes played no role for Australia in their golden Ashes summer in either Test or one-day cricket, despite averaging exceeding 50 in the Bupa Sheffield Shield for the Redbacks. In the 2014 season, Hughes was twice recalled and twice left out.
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