Whenever I hear the name Phillip Hughes, I feel as if it is time to cue the sad violin music.
The 25-year-old has done everything possible to regain his spot in Australia’s Test and ODI squad, but has continuously been snubbed.
In fact, Hughes recently became the first Australian to score a double century in a List A game, and even that was not enough to earn him a place in the national team for the upcoming ODI tri-series against Zimbabwe and South Africa.
However, I firmly believe that Hughes will continue to fight because he has always done so up until now. Hughes recently said that the new chairman of selectors, Rod Marsh, had supported him and challenged him to continue making big scores.
But despite receiving a lot of praise from Marsh, Hughes could not hide his disappointment after finding out that he would not be travelling with the national team to Zimbabwe.
“I was really disappointed to not get selected for that [Zimbabwe tour], but that’s how it is,” Hughes said.
“All I can do is continue to play some consistent cricket. I’m happy with my game at the moment. I’ve had a good chat with Rod Marsh and he’s been really good.
“That chat stays between me and Rod, but it’s about scoring a lot more runs and everything takes care of itself.
“They only took 14 to Zimbabwe, so it’s not many in the squad. There wasn’t really room for me, and that’s what he said.”
Hughes has every right to be disappointed. In the two four-day matches he played against India A, he scored 146 runs at a brilliant average of 73. He followed that up with 332 runs, which included a double century and two half-centuries at a sensational average of 110.66, in four matches during the Quadrangular A-Team One-Day Series.
This is more than enough proof to show why Hughes belongs in Australia’s Test and ODI squad.
Up until today, Hughes has represented Australia in 26 Tests and 20 ODIs and averages 32.65 and 36.66 respectively. While the averages themselves are quite impressive, there is a reason why Hughes was dropped. But it is necessary to take a trip back in time.
If we look at Hughes’ Test career, we can clearly see that it started off with a bang as he scored 75 on debut against South Africa in Johannesburg in February 2009. He followed that up with scores of 115 and 160 in Durban. However, things went downhill from that point as Hughes only managed to score one more century in his next 24 Tests, which came against Sri Lanka in September 2011.
On the other hand, it should be noted that Hughes surpassed the half-century mark on six other occasions but failed to convert them into triple figure scores.
There is a rather similar pattern when it comes to Hughes’ ODI career as he scored 112 against Sri Lanka on debut in Sydney and 138 just 12 days later in Hobart. But, just like his Test career, things started to go awry as he failed to score any more centuries. However, he did manage to go past fifty on two other occasions.
After analysing Hughes’ Test and ODI career, we can see that bad form and the inability to convert starts into bigger scores were the two main reasons he was dropped. But looking at his recent performances, Hughes doesn’t seem to have that problem anymore. It seems as if he has rectified his errors and is more than ready for another shot on the international stage.
One person who has already backed Hughes to return and become a formidable player is Michael Clarke. The Australian captain recently said that Hughes had the potential to be a “100-Test player” and is someone who “continues to score big runs”.
“I think Hughesy is a really good example of someone who continues to score big runs,” Clarke told ABC Radio earlier this week.
“Look at his first-class record, he’s probably got more hundreds than any other player at his age. He’s making runs consistently for Australia A, so I think he’s doing everything he can to be in the front of the selectors’ minds.
“I think in 10 years from now, we’ll be talking about Phillip Hughes as one of those players to play 100 Test matches for Australia. He’s got the talent, he’s got the work ethic.
“I guess what I love most about Hughesy is his passion and want to play for Australia.”
Clarke sums up Hughes perfectly. A fighter who has played at the international level and is determined to make his comeback, no matter how hard it may be.
Hughes is definitely someone to keep an eye on in the near future as he possesses an unlimited amount of talent, a hardworking attitude and mindset, the strive to constantly become better and, most importantly, the undying passion to represent his country and don the baggy green once again.
Follow Bimal on Twitter @BimalMirwani