Hughes shows mental strength at SCG

By Ben Horne,

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    Phil Hughes was shattered to miss out on a fairy-tale first century for Australia on home soil, but his home-coming 87 at the SCG on Friday was another sign he’s mentally ready to fulfil his potential at Test level.

    A fragile Hughes opening the batting last summer couldn’t fight his way out of a wet paper bag against New Zealand.

    The result was a Test dumping and a state cricket shift to South Australia.

    Twelve months on and Hughes has ironed out some technical clinks with his off-side play, cleared his head and been reincarnated as a Test No.3.

    The pressures associated with returning to Sydney could have sent the 24-year-old into a flutter. He said, himself, he didn’t know if he was going to get cheered or booed.

    But Hughes strode to the middle with purpose and played without fear against Sri Lanka.

    “I’m older now and a lot more experienced and wiser,” Hughes said.

    “If you look at my cricket to date, the last four years have been a lot of ups and downs … but I just feel a lot more settled and calm as a whole.

    “Moving states was a big thing but I also feel a better player on the field.

    “There’s been a number of things I’ve worked on to be the package and there’s still a number of things I want to work on to become better than I am now.”

    Long-time batting coach and mentor, Neil D’Costa, said Hughes’ mental toughness prevented him being daunted by a return to the scene of his previous life as a talented but tortured prodigy for NSW.

    “He’s got good systems to prepare himself for big matches now and he’s a very calm character,” D’Costa told AAP.

    “I’m pleased for him. If he got away, I know he was keen to go on and make a hundred.

    “He’d be bitterly disappointed … but I know he’ll be satisfied that he’s growing in his confidence in his new role.”

    Hughes has three centuries to his name in 20 Tests – all scored in South Africa and Sri Lanka.

    Falling on the devil’s number at the SCG robbed him of his best chance at a breakthrough ton in Australia, after he was also out for 86 in his return innings in Hobart in the first Test of this series.

    Hughes outscored David Warner in their 130-run partnership and worked his wrists beautifully in smashing nine boundaries in his 143-ball innings.

    Hughes will likely get another chance to impress in Australia’s second dig before he looks ahead to the four-Test Indian tour next month.

    D’Costa said he has some plans already in place for how to best prepare his charge for Indian conditions, given the distinct lack of Sheffield Shield cricket available for Hughes in the meantime.

    “There’s different things I do,” he said.

    “We had a little hit and chat when he got to Sydney from Melbourne and said basically we’ll talk after this Test match.”

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (7)

    • January 5th 2013 @ 8:42am
      Rodney said | January 5th 2013 @ 8:42am | ! Report

      His real test will come against the Indians and the ashes, the Sri Lankans bowled to his strengths yesterday which the POMS won’t

    • January 5th 2013 @ 11:41am
      Bearfax said | January 5th 2013 @ 11:41am | ! Report

      Early days but this Warner-Hughes combination, preferably as openers, could become a great opening pair for Australia

    • January 6th 2013 @ 7:04am
      Hugh Jarse said | January 6th 2013 @ 7:04am | ! Report

      I’ve been a supporter of Hughes since his unfair (in my opinion) dumping from the team in England.
      I was at the ground to watch his innings and partnership with Warner.
      Again in my opinion, it was one of the most selfish innings I have seen.
      Hughes would not attempt to score of the first 3-4 balls of each over unless he could play a boundary shot.
      For the last part of the over he would try to manipulate the strike for the next over.
      I would like to see both batsmen’s scores & balls faced at the fall of Warner’s wicket.

      On that innings alone, he’s lost my support in the current round of pub expert discussions.

      • January 6th 2013 @ 8:28am
        WW said | January 6th 2013 @ 8:28am | ! Report

        so Flintoff making Hughes look like a park cricketer in 2009…. that was unfair?

        he did hog the strike… but sometimes its circumstance rather than tactic surely.

      • January 6th 2013 @ 9:04am
        Rob said | January 6th 2013 @ 9:04am | ! Report

        He is a selfish cricketer, how he left the thunder last year was selfish, NSW lost to Tasmania in 2011 shield final as he scored a very slow 80 odd when we needed quick runs in a game which ended jn a draw, and most folks saw his running in the test, he is only in the team because of Clarke and I fear we will lose a quality opener in Cowan because if favoritism

        • January 6th 2013 @ 9:09am
          WW said | January 6th 2013 @ 9:09am | ! Report

          Cowan a quality opener? i’m confident he is one of the worst openers we’ve had since well…. ever

          I agree hughes hasn’t convinced anyone of his character yet. Technically a better option than Cowan though and he will mature with experience.

          • January 7th 2013 @ 2:03am
            Mark T said | January 7th 2013 @ 2:03am | ! Report

            Character? What are you talking about? The kid is a role model. I look to him everyday to become a better person. If you haven’t personally met him, then how can you judge his character? Besides, if his character was so bad, then I’m sure his team-mates would know better than you or I which clearly seems not to be the case. Warner and Hughes are great mates, as are Clarke and Hughes, or Haddin and Hughes.

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