Jaques favourite to replace Hayden

January 14th, 2009 - 5:26 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 14 (IANS) Phil Jaques is the overwhelming favourite to replace retired cricketer Matthew Hayden as opener in the Australian Test side.Jaques, who makes his return to state cricket in Saturday’s Twenty20 game against Victoria, established himself as an opener following the retirement of Justin Langer, scoring 902 runs in 11 Tests at an average of 47.47, with three centuries to boot.

But the left-hander was forced to fly home from the tour of India to undergo back surgery in October and Simon Katich seized on the chance and cemented his spot after a two and a half-year absence.

A poll by The Australian online suggested that Jaques is the most favoured player to replace Hayden.

Of the 1,384 people who voted, 38 percent preferred the New South Wales batsman, ahead of Chris Rogers (15 percent), Shaun Marsh (14 percent), or any other opener (33 percent).

Jaques returned to the nets Dec 21, aiming to win a squad berth for the return tour to South Africa.

“I scored 100 in my last Test so hopefully they (Cricket Australia) remember that. I think I’ve got the runs on the board,” Jaques was quoted as saying in The Australian.

“There is no doubt my aim is to play that South African tour. If that was not my aim I would not be playing that first-class match on the 30th (of January).

“I want to go to South Africa, that’s certainly what I am trying for. I am sure I can play a big role for Australian cricket and I can’t wait to get back.”

But Jaques still faces fierce competition from other in-form openers.

Rogers has scored 661 runs (three centuries) in six Sheffield Shield games this season at an average of 82.62 for Victoria, while NSW young gun Phillip Hughes has scored 730 from seven matches at an average of 56.15 with three centuries in only his second season of representative cricket.

Western Australia’s Marsh has struggled for runs in the longer form of the game this season, scoring 167 runs at an average of 23.85 in four matches, but he has already batted at the top of the order for Australia in one-day and Twenty20 cricket.

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