Don’t forget about Phillip Hughes just yet

Tony Loedi Roar Guru

By Tony Loedi, Tony Loedi is a Roar Guru

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    Phil Hughes was the victim of a bouncer, but is there a real danger to bowlers as well? (AP Photo/Chris Crerar)

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    Phil Hughes has The Roar community divided; some have written him off, while others (like myself) think he will be a dominant Test match opener.

    The biggest argument against Hughes is he’s been tried, tested and failed at Test level.

    Certainly the tried part is true as he’s accumulated over 20 Test caps, but let’s not forget the kid just turned 25 and is still refining his game.

    He has improved his play against pace and now he must do that against the spinners.

    Hughes had a horrible tour of India and England because of his weakness against spin but this was exaggerated as he was batting out of position.

    Hughes is an opener and that’s where he should bat. Until he improves his game against spin he needs to start his innings against the pace men.

    Let’s also remember Hughes’ Sheffield Shield batting average is in the top 25 of all time for Australian batsman, bettering the average of some of the all-time greats in the likes of Allan Border, Justin Langer and the Waugh brothers.

    In the modern era only one player ahead of him on this list didn’t go on to a become a great Test match batsman – Michael Bevan.

    Unfortunately for Bevan he got stuck behind some of the best batsmen we have ever produced and only managed to play 18 Tests early on in his career.

    Fortunately for Hughes he won’t suffer from the same dilemma because there is a shortage of quality batsmen going around and it’s only a matter of time before he gets another crack.

    So obviously he will improve, but by how much?

    Let’s have a look at his Test stats so far.

    In 26 matches he has a batting average of 32.65.

    To get an answer to the above question I wanted to check and compare Hughes to players who had also played 20 Tests before the age of 25.

    Two players stood out – below is their Test match stats before they turned 25.

    Steve Waugh, in 44 matches had a batting average of 37.44.

    Michael Clarke in 27 matches had an average of 42.00.

    Clearly both records are better than Hughes’, although Steve Waugh was only five runs better at the same age plus he had played 18 more Tests.

    Clarke has averaged 55.76 since turning 25, an improvement of over 13 runs, and Steve Waugh averaged 54.51, which is an improvement of more than 17 runs per innings.

    So again, how much can Hughes improve?

    Well considering his unbelievable Shield average and the fact Steve Waugh and Michael Clarke overcame a very similar start to their careers, I would say the odds are in his favour of becoming a pretty good Test match batsman.

    At the very least he should be able to add 10 runs to his current average, pushing it above 42, but If he can bump it up as much as Waugh did he would be averaging something close to 50.

    My guess is he will end up with an average somewhere in-between those two figures.

    Clearly Hughes’ skill level hasn’t even peaked yet and as far as I’m concerned it’s only a matter of time.

    Let’s not forget about Phillip Hughes just yet.

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    The Crowd Says (29)

    • December 21st 2013 @ 8:23am
      Andrew said | December 21st 2013 @ 8:23am | ! Report

      Great article Tony, when is Hughes ready for test selection in your opinion? For mine, it’s South Africa. He has great shield form atm and would strongly be in the selectors minds. If that was so, it would mean Rogers would need to step down from the team.

      • December 21st 2013 @ 8:53am
        Aggregated drupe said | December 21st 2013 @ 8:53am | ! Report

        And he’s played well against South Africa in the past. Two centuries and two half century’s in 5 matches

        • Roar Guru

          December 21st 2013 @ 9:19am
          Cameron Kellett said | December 21st 2013 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          When you look into these numbers more closely you’ll notice in his first 4 innings he scored 350 runs at an average of 87.5, since then he’s played a further 6 innings and averaged 30.33. In fact the only other good run he’s had was against Sri Lanka. When you look at all other opponents versed you’ll notice he didn’t average any higher than 29.40. He’s good domestically, internationally he has a long way to go.

          • Roar Guru

            December 21st 2013 @ 11:14am
            Tony Loedi said | December 21st 2013 @ 11:14am | ! Report

            Cameron, Again most of his innings have come as a young man. His last stint in the team isn’t a fair reflection I don’t believe, because he was batting out of position.

            • Roar Guru

              December 21st 2013 @ 11:43am
              Cameron Kellett said | December 21st 2013 @ 11:43am | ! Report

              Batting out position, poor guy, jeez I wish I could bat out of position for Australia let alone bat. I feel for Watson as well, what’s his best position going by statistics? Mate, when you’re a professional athlete and wanting to play for your country, you’ll play wherever you can. If he’s using the excuse of I wasn’t playing in position then its no wonder he’s not in the team, but I don’t recall that being the reason for his downfall.

              • Roar Guru

                December 21st 2013 @ 11:45am
                Tony Loedi said | December 21st 2013 @ 11:45am | ! Report

                Umm, he isn’t using that as an excuse, I am.

              • Roar Guru

                December 21st 2013 @ 12:01pm
                Cameron Kellett said | December 21st 2013 @ 12:01pm | ! Report

                Exactly my point, why are you making excuses for a professional athlete who hasn’t performed on the international stage?

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2013 @ 11:11am
        Tony Loedi said | December 21st 2013 @ 11:11am | ! Report

        Andrew, Rogers has done just enough to stay in the team but any slip up from him and I think Hughes will be straight in…Hopefully anyway.

        • December 21st 2013 @ 11:23am
          Andrew said | December 21st 2013 @ 11:23am | ! Report

          Tony, I like Rogers myself. However I think he will require to step aside to build towards the ashes in 18 months. Hughes will need the preparation to be ready for this. (Time in the side). As Ronan noted a couple of days ago, post South Africa we play India and Pakistan I think it was. He needs time and Test form rather than FC form to get through those tough spinning conditions. Unfortunately, Rogers although he hasn’t done badly will be the casualty of this. P.s his age really is his main downfall.

          • Roar Guru

            December 21st 2013 @ 11:32am
            Tony Loedi said | December 21st 2013 @ 11:32am | ! Report

            I didn’t want Rogers in the team in the first place, so I wouldn’t mind if they dropped him now. But the selectors will wait for him to fail. Maybe after Melbourne.

          • December 21st 2013 @ 2:13pm
            Nudge said | December 21st 2013 @ 2:13pm | ! Report

            I think Andrew, Ronan also made the point that how will Hughes go against Ajmal. So if Hughes came in for the Saffas and had some success then he would be facing Ajmal and a couple of other good spinners on dust bowls. He would have no chance, and then he would be dropped again. Where to for Phil Hughes if that happened? In my view he shouldn’t be playing against the Saffas because of what lies ahead. If he is still scoring big runs in the shield at the start of the next Aus summer, and there’s a spot, I can see that as a good time

            • December 21st 2013 @ 2:48pm
              Andrew said | December 21st 2013 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

              Yeah Nudge the point I’m making with regards to Hughes is that he will have to front up to those tough spinners eventually if he wants to stay in the team. With South Africa 1st, he may find form at test level before he gets to those spinners. That way he could use that form to get through or even fight hard for runs on those tours. No point bypassing them just to put him in after and revisit those problems later. If he is good enough, he will make it. If not, we know where he stands. I personally think he can do it, and on current form deserves the go.

              • Roar Guru

                December 22nd 2013 @ 1:50pm
                Tony Loedi said | December 22nd 2013 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                Also if he opens then he can get set facing the pace bowlers so when the spinner comes on they should be easier to play.

    • December 21st 2013 @ 9:15am
      Brendon the 1st said | December 21st 2013 @ 9:15am | ! Report

      I’m glad you wrote this article.

      Phil Hughes is our long term opener, I would take him to SA and Id have him opening in Rogers place. I really like Rogers but, he’s not going to be the dominant force in test cricket he is in shield and county, Hughes has piled on the runs…..again…..and deserves a go, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation if he hadn’t run out of partners in the first English test and he’d gone on to score a century, he was extremely unlucky to be dropped.

      • Roar Guru

        December 21st 2013 @ 11:16am
        Tony Loedi said | December 21st 2013 @ 11:16am | ! Report

        Totally agree. Hughes should have been opening in the ashes series in England

    • December 21st 2013 @ 11:38am
      Peaches said | December 21st 2013 @ 11:38am | ! Report

      Hughes is a test opening batsman. That’s his job. You can see it in his game. He loves to score runs and plenty of them. He hammers the first class attacks and has often been the victim for getting Watson into the side or making Watson feel comfortable in his batting position. For mine, he’ll replace Rogers at some point. It’s just how long Rogers survives for.
      He does have to work on his game but name me one player who doesn’t. When in form and confident, I think only Warner is a more destructive batsman.

    • Roar Guru

      December 21st 2013 @ 12:53pm
      Tony Loedi said | December 21st 2013 @ 12:53pm | ! Report

      No doubt peaches, I’m sure when he gets the chance to open again we’ll see him shine

    • December 21st 2013 @ 2:56pm
      Griffo said | December 21st 2013 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

      I’ve always considered Phil Hughes to be a very talented batsman but one that had some severe technical downfalls. He has definitely improved regarding his flashing at balls way outside off but he does need to improve his batting to spin. I think he probably has some issues with his mental strength and application. This is probably in part to do with the way he’s been in and out and in and out etc. from the test team. I’ve always thought he needs to spend consecutive first class seasons developing his batting but also his mental toughness before being brought back into the test team.
      Also I like the current contrast in styles between Rogers and Warner and I think it works well for the team. Until Hughes is rock solid as an opener they should stick with the status quo

      • Roar Guru

        December 22nd 2013 @ 1:52pm
        Tony Loedi said | December 22nd 2013 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

        Griffo, I don’t think his mental toughness is in question, he converts 50’s into 100’s at a great rate plus you had to be tough to score 2 centuries against the South Africans as a 21 year old

        • December 25th 2013 @ 9:50am
          Clavers said | December 25th 2013 @ 9:50am | ! Report

          His 81 not out in the First Test in England showed all the toughness in the world.

    • December 21st 2013 @ 9:14pm
      Worlds Biggest said | December 21st 2013 @ 9:14pm | ! Report

      I would pick Hughes for the Tour of South Africa and stick with him. I’d give him 2 seasons to cement his place in the team and fix his batting against spin. He has been in and out of the team, can’t be great for his confidence, pick him and persevere.

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