Jaques has 29 days to prove that he deserves a Test spot

January 18th, 2009 - 3:00 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, Jan.18 (ANI): New South Wales opener PHIL Jaques has 29 days to prove to Australian selectors that he deserves the Test place vacated by Matt Hayden.
Despite suffering a setback in his recovery from back surgery, Jaques is still targeting next month’’s tour of South Africa for his return to international cricket, reports the Daily Telegraph.
The left-hander felt pain in his back during a net session last week and on Friday consulted his specialist, who advised him to take another week off.
Australia’’s chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch spoke to Jaques on the same day to discuss his progress.
“He said he just needs me out there playing cricket as soon as possible and making runs. It’’s hard for the selectors to make assumptions on how I am until they see me play cricket, which is fair enough,”” Jacques was quoted, as saying.
Jaques plans to play in Sydney’’s grade competition for Sutherland next weekend, a tune-up for his first-class return with New South Wales on January 30.
Australia departs for South Africa on February 16. Hayden is adamant that Jaques” experience is vital for such a gruelling tour, preferring the 29-year-old to the precociously talented 20-year-old Phil Hughes.
“He’’s demonstrated over a long period of time that he has the ability to make runs,”” Hayden said of Jaques.
“It’’s unfair to almost put him in the same bracket as someone like Hughes, for example, who hasn”t had that opportunity … but in the short time he’’s proved his ability is immense. That’’s really what it’’s all about, it’’s going to be a gut call (for selectors).””
Jaques felt the South Africa tour was achievable, but said he wouldn”t risk his long-term fitness by pushing too hard.
“I don”t want to go back in and get another operation down the track. I want to be 100 per cent ready when I start playing again. If that means I miss a tour, I miss a tour. But I”m confident I”ll be right. I was a bit concerned (at first) because I hadn”t felt any discomfort whatsoever since I”d been back in work. But it’’s nothing major and it’’s responded really well,”” Jacques said.
Since coming home from the tour of India in October for surgery on a bulging disc, Jaques has been boxing, doing weights, swimming, running and cycling to stay in shape.
He hasn”t played a Test since June, scoring 108 against the West Indies. But having built up to two net sessions a day, Jaques felt his form would return quickly. (ANI)

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