You’ve got to admire a tenacious and dedicated bloke like Phil Hughes. If you don’t agree, just take a look back at his career thus far under the oppressive eye of the often-demanding Australian cricketing public.
His time on the scene has been a mosaic of gut-busting scraps for credit on the back of demoralising pitfalls, highly-spirited displays of steel in the face of adversity and symbolic bird-flipping with the willow to the disbelievers.
His helter-skelter batting mojo has been widely questioned and collectively bagged. The caboose of his pastoral technique has been kicked ad infinitum.
Each time he’s been on the back page next to a guillotine, Hughes has taken it firmly on the chin and grafted his way back into calculations by throwing the kitchen sink at his shortcomings.
The Macksville Mauler has never been afraid to put his modus operandi up on the hoist for re-tootling, all in the name of getting back to contribute to the cause at national level.
There’s been rebuilding, rehashing and restyling, with special attention given to the short ball, the wide ball, the full ball and the spinning ball. There’s been head reading, one-on-one tutoring and tactical re-booting.
He’s buggered off overseas, came back to Sydney, returned to Macksville, played some grade cricket and shifted interstate.
The whole time he’s been following the educated public’s orders on what he needs to improve on, he’s maintained a quiet dignity, an unassuming nature and a willingness to go and get his hands dirty, all in the name of rising his average by a stock point or two and getting his scone back on the radar.
It’s hard not to like the bloke, and frankly, he deserves better. It is for this reason that I am imploring the selectors to never pick him for Australia again.
Hughes has been dragged through enough public sludge and is far too admirable to have another chapter added to his story of international tragedy and torment.
I’m sure many would disagree, especially the untrained eyes not privy to past wounds and those from the ‘corner turned’ line of thinking who have been seduced by his new-look game and scattering of fine innings so far this summer.
With one ton and three sparkling 50s across all forms, including a couple on the foliage of the Gabba, you could be forgiven for believing this is the Hughes we’ve been impatiently waiting upon.
Sure, I attest that he probably appears heavily pregnant with a litter of oversized scores at the moment. But don’t be fooled.
What appears as an eight month, third trimester bulging bump of potential top-line plundering and match-winning produce under the Hughes vest is nothing more than a pillow full of duck feathers.
His magical and seemingly never-ending domestic domination is only transferable at international level for a painfully cautious innings for himself, ants-pants anxiety for Australian devotees and a basket full of match-scenario catching practice for Martin Guptill.
Wearing the Baggy Green is the Hughes kryptonite. It renders his deadeye dead and his inflated crease presence wilted before totally sucking any semblance of good form from his body. He doesn’t deserve to deal with its burden and should be given the respite from it he’s worked for.
So if the South African or Sri Lankan quicks get the upper hand this summer and our top order splutters, let’s lobby the selectors to forget the team and think of the wellbeing of Hughes first and foremost.
John Inverarity and his panel need to do the right thing by an honest, hard-working Aussie fella who deserves some good luck and positive vibes.
When it comes to Phil Hughes: please, don’t go there.