Posted by: nestaquin | January 18, 2009

Phillip Hughes: Middlesex Bound

phillip-hughesIn a move that will no doubt improve his chances of Test selection, Australia’s most promising young batsman, Phillip Hughes, has refused approaches from several IPL franchises and instead will, I have it on good authority, play for Middlesex during the 2009 English domestic season.

Obviously, with no contracts signed as yet nothing is guaranteed but one thing is certain, Hughes will play County cricket if not at Lord’s then somewhere else.

The young left-hand opening bat, who has a maturity well beyond his 20 years, has forgone, for now at least, the riches available for participating in the IPL to learn as much as he can about the English game and conditions, and in doing so, increase his chances of appearing in the BaggyGreen during the forthcoming Ashes contest.

Essentially, he will play far more cricket for far less cash but the experience gained and the opportunity offered is something that cannot be purchased and will be invaluable for his cricket education.

His decision to refuse an invitation to play in India, something Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke have also considered wise, can only make him a better Test player and to a man everyone I informed during the nailbiting and heart-thumping match at Bellerive today was very impressed with the young man’s decision.

It was only a few days ago that The Tooting Trumpet wrote of the importance of Australian cricketers plying their trade in England and Hughes’ decision to gain valuable experience instead of disposable cash is evidence of not only Toots’ occasional wisdom but also of Hughes’ determination and personal sacrifice to have a long and fruitful career in the BaggyGreen.


  1. Good on him!

    His choice of Middlesex is interesting. Lord’s offers much to the aspirant cricketer as does time spent in London, a most cosmopolitan city and one with almost untold opportunities for the young man or woman with an open mind and enough money to get by (you do need a fair bit). The downside is that Middlesex (like Surrey) play in the second division of the county championship in which there are (alas) some rather weak teams.

    The ideal destination would be Somerset opening with Tresco under Langer – but the restriction on overseas players precludes that. That’s a real shame, because not only would Hughes be fully rewarded for his admirable commitment to a Test future, but England’s best bowlers would try their skills against Aus’ leading young bat and England’s young bats would learn from Hughes’ approach to playing. Some of England’s strongest post-War teams came when every county had two Test quality overseas players – that’s about right fo me if you have 18 counties.

  2. If my source, a man in the know at the TCA, has his facts correct and I do not doubt him, Hughes is weighing up an offer from Durham and a few other unnamed teams are also apparently interested but his preference is Middlesex because of the romance of playing at Lord’s.

    Perhaps it’s not a bad idea to play Second Division in his first stint and you never know he may score enough to get them promoted. I presume that’s why they have given him an invitation.

    He’ll have played two months in England before The Ashes begins and with Jaques’ back chronic some big scores at Lord’s may be just the tonic to get him his first cap on July 8 in Cardiff.

  3. So crazy is the county cricket season, that Hughes will barely get a game at Lord’s pre-Ashes, never mind a first-class match –

    Durham will be a much better, if more prosaic, option.

  4. “Toots’ occasional wisdom ”
    Hard taskmaster Nesta!

    Does the heart good to see such choices being made. As someone commented on Warner yesterday, he’s in a bit of a difficult position, if he feels he has to repeat his heroics everytime regardless of the state of the pitch and bowling. You can’t always tee off. Great to see a bit of solid experience in different conditions being valued by Hughes.
    Great too to see Marsh playing some classy cricket in the game yesterday. He looks very promising. I didn’t stay up to see the SA innings, I assumed they would comfortably cruise through to 250. The pitch must have been trickier than it seemed. But of the Aus innings, Marsh was the real highlight. Beautiful driving. Good to see Haddin continuing to show intent too, even if he struggled to make it come off.
    Steyn’s a bit of a handful isn’t he?
    The game seemed a bit flat yesterday. No batsman was ever comfortable, the innings never quite hummed, SA never seemed to celebrate their wickets, the CH9 commentary was pedestrian, the crowd was fickle. Still, they’ll be happy to have the result on the board.
    TTT, Yes, Durham would struggle to attract anyone if in competition to the mythical Lords.

  5. Why wasn’t Tait playing? was he dropped or injured?

  6. Wow, I’m proper impressed with this decision. Good to see the Macksville kid making such a sound decision, he’s certainly good enough that once he breaks into the Baggy Green side he’ll be there for the long haul and the riches will follow.

  7. Fred, Toots would know that the ‘occasional’ was just a friendly neighbourhood Ashes year sledge and knowing Toots’ honest humility, I think he’d prefer the understated than the overblown.

    As for yesterday’s match, Australia bowled and fielded very well, the match was played in front of a parochial yet respectful sell-out crowd and the last half hour had everyone on the edge of their seats. It was a hard, gritty and thoroughly entertaining match where 16,000 people certainly received value for money.

    Tait was on the bench and we’ll see him back in the team in Sydney on Friday.

  8. Nesta
    I’m sorry I missed the Aus bowling, but a man has to sleep sometime. Must have been impressive. SA almost did it again.

  9. The bowling was impressive at times with Bracken outstanding. He bowled most of his overs during powerplays and hardly bowled a bad ball. Although he never took a wicket he was the Man of the Match in my book.

    Hilfenhaus’ first spell was an excellent display of outswing bowling where he dismissed Amla and when Australia were in strife in the middle overs he came back on and triggered a mini collapse by removing Kallis.

    Harris bowled penetratively regularly hitting the 145kmh mark, while Hopes and DHussey bowled tidily.

    To be honest I felt the same as you at the end of the first innings. 249/9 looked a poor score after being 150/2 in 29 overs.

    Australia still stuffed up the batting powerplay and I won’t be surprised if Ponting takes it early when two top order players are set in Sydney.

    Johnson returns after a well deserved spell on Friday and that should give Australia the edge, I hope.

  10. As Nesta and other posters pointed out this is a mature decision for a lad barely out of his teens. I wish him all the best.

    Can anyone tell me more of him. Batting style, temparement, strengths etc. It has been a while since the Aussie selectors have considered one so young. Is this part of the push for youth?

  11. Dement, I’ve only seen Hughes once in the flesh. In a low scoring match at Bellerive last month.

    On a pitch that was seaming and in conditions conducive to swing he was the only batsman in the match to truly dominate. In the first dig he scored 93 of NSW’s 172 and in the second 108 of 173. I think his percentage of runs in that match broke one of Bradman’s long-standing records.

    He is short, solid and beautifully balanced like Bradman and Tendulkar and is equally adept off the front and back foot. He is very patient and like Phil Jaques plays predominately with the bottom hand.

    He is strong square of the wicket on the offside and his placement driving, both through the on and offside is immaculate.

    The most impressive aspect about his batting is that he seems to have more time to play his shots than mere mortals. In my opinion that is sure sign of class.

    He is a country lad that grew up on a banana farm on the NSW north coast and he is at the moment the best batsman of his generation.

    Make no bones about it, the kid is a gun with a level head and a precocious talent and probably the best young batsman the nation has produced since Ponting.

    As for the push for youth, I’m not sure. When selected he’ll earn his place on merit not potential.

    Hope that helps mate and I doubt you’ll have to wait too long before he is on telly wearing his spanking new BaggyGreen. Perhaps as soon as next month in South Africa.

  12. Thanks Nesta, Cant wait to see this lad in action

  13. Phil Hughes definitely a master batsmen. He along with Shaun Marsh can be one of the all time great opening pair in the world. These two will be pillar of Australian batting in years to come. WELL DONE PHIL!

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