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Edward Craig: Hughes' tough Test

October 21st, 2009 by Edward Craig in Champions League, Test cricket, The Ashes, Twenty20

Phillip Hughes, Australia’s next big batting thing, had a torrid time against Andrew Flintoff in the Ashes, losing his place after two Tests of nervous jerking and hopping around the crease, avoiding short balls.

He next appears on the global radar forming an impressive opening partnership with David Warner for New South Wales in the Champions League. At the start of the semi-final against Victoria, he was the tournament’s leading run scorer.

But these two performances, once you see them in the flesh, are surprisingly similar. He’s got a big glitch in his technique – he got found out in the Ashes and is riding his luck for his state.

He’s scared of the short, quick ball – the delivery that passes his chest, not giving him room to play the cut. Flintoff peppered him and he found ways of getting himself out. Against Somerset in Hyderabad, he had made a comfortable 18 while Warner hit at the other end. Then Justin Langer suddenly remembered the English had discovered a weakness. Langer told Alfonso Thomas (no Allan Donald) to bowl short and at Hughes’ chest. Suddenly it was game on – no singles, ugly swipes, hopping around the crease especially towards square leg – suddenly it was the Ashes again. Caught at third man.

So come this semi-final on Delhi’s slow dog and he’s opening the batting with Warner. Peter Siddle’s first over is short and short of a length. Hughes cuts one over backward point for four, he ducks into one, tries to swipe one and is nearly bowled. It is all ugly, flinching stuff.

But the openers add 62 in seven overs before Warner is run out for 48 off 25 balls. The struggling Hughes had made 13 from 16 balls – and that’s not through pushing and nudging. Then the spinners and medium pace came on and he cashes in till done by a slower ball for 35.

Maybe that’s the point, hang in there and the runs will come, but it does seem that he’s getting away with it at domestic and Twenty20 level.

The intensity of Test matches is a whole different game.

Edward Craig is deputy editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in Champions League, Test cricket, The Ashes, Twenty20 | 14 Comments »

14 Responses to “Edward Craig: Hughes' tough Test”

  1.   Paddy Briggs says:

    No doubt Middlesex will welcome him back next season to help him improve his technique and develop into a world class player - I expect Gus has a batting coach in mind to help him do this in good time for The Ashes 2010/2011.

  2.   Barry Barry says:

    Yeh, wouldn’t it be bloody awful to have an exciting, world-class opener playing county cricket

  3.   Dave says:

    If only South African had thought to bowl a few short balls at him.

    Oh, hang on…

  4.   Edward Craig says:

    They bowled with too much width in South Africa, I’d argue, and not consistently enough.

    That South African attack in the first two Tests were still hungover from their success in Australia - they didn’t bowl with the fire you’d expect.

  5.   Winsome says:

    Brett Geeves has pointed out exactly these things in his blog, with one difference… they couldn’t get him out.

    He is as unpleasant to watch as Collingwood. No beauty about his play at all, but so far remains effective at domestic level in Australia.

  6.   rusty says:

    I think he’s great to watch! And the comparison to Collingwood is woeful. Hughes is bizarre and exciting. Colly - not.

  7.   Edward Craig says:

    I’d agree, either hopping around the crease or playing weirdly brilliant shots, he’s great value. I certainly don’t dispute that.

  8.   Paddy Briggs says:

    Barry Barry

    So you support the counties, like Middlesex, who offer foreign world-class players the opportunity to hone their skills in their off-season so that they are better prepared to take England on when they return to international duty?

    And you no doubt also agree with the fact that the ECB gives much of the money we pay supporting England (tickets and Sky subscription) to the counties who then pass on a substantial proportion of this money to players like Hughes and the rest?

    And if the talented Hughes does just that next year and improves his technique to such an extent that he is a major force in Australia’s regaining of The Ashes you’ll be cheering on will you?

    Are you Australian?

  9.   Edward Craig says:

    Middlesex did a cracking job playing him into form for the Ashes …

  10.   Barry Barry says:

    I am not Australian. I have been there though. It’s nice.

    God forbid the thought that England want to take on the best players. Obviously it’s much better for international cricket if Hughes isn’t allowed to improve his skills and remain a bit crap - much more exciting that England take on a lessened team.

    England should want to take on the best possible teams with the best possible players - that’s what top-quality sport is all about. So i’m all for overseas players coming over here to get a better experience of the conditions.

    The Championship is poor enough as it is without world-class overseas players providing a bit of entertainment.

    You don’t hear people complaining about Liverpool honing Torres’s skills before a World Cup. Because that would be stupid.

  11.   Winsome says:

    Hughes is bizarre to watch, but it just somehow hurts to see that wierd a technique at top level.

    I find it ugly that it why I compared it to Colly. I thought Colly was the ugliest batsman going till Hughes arrived with his happy to be squared up technique.

  12.   Paddy Briggs says:

    Barry Barry

    Those who debate this issue and see themselves losing the argument always give a specious football “parallel”. Liverpool does not rely on my buying a ticket for an England match at Wembley to pay Mr Torres’s wages!

    There is limited money in cricket and the biggest earners by far are from sales of tickets to international matches and from the ECB’s deal with Sky. So when I pay £100 to watch England a proportion of that money finds its way via the counties to Mr Hughes and his like. And every time he and the rest, including all the Kolpakkers, play they keep an England qualfied player out of the county team. And I object to all this. And so should you.

  13.   Barry Barry says:

    So what that Hughes keeps an England player out of the Middlesex team? Billy Godleman and Nick Compton are both very average and will never represent their country so why on earth would i want to watch them ahead of Hughes? I want to see the best players. It’s what sport is about. I’d much rather my £100 went on bringing in someone like Hughes than nurturing someone who’ll have a trundling 15-year county career and will attract precisely no one to a county match.

    And the Torres parallel isn’t ‘specious’, it’s very relevant at a spectator level. Fans pay money to see the best on offer and preventing overseas players in the county championship goes against this.

  14.   Paddy Briggs says:

    Aha – now I get it! The standard of English cricketing talent is so low that in order to entice spectators we have to bring in overseas “stars” so that the grounds will be packed for every County Championship match! Well that’s working well isn’t it? And, by the by, might the standard not be so low BECAUSE we keep importing mercenaries who block places – now there’s a out of left field thought!

    And how about Ed’s statement that “Middlesex did a cracking job playing him into form for the Ashes”. It’s a cunning plan Baldrick! We worry about the sheer talent of a young player and how he might knock us all around the ground in The Ashes. So we send him off to Gus Fraser at Lord’s to undermine his chances. But it didn’t work. Here are his innings for Middlesex in all matches: 118,65,74,139,23,5,195,12,7,11,119,57. That’s 825 runs in 12 innings at an average of 68.75! Seems that Middlesex played him into form alright to me Ed!!

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