Michael Slater backs Phil Hughes to succeed in South Africa

February 14th, 2009 - 7:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Feb 14 (IANS) Former Australian opener Michael Slater expects young opening batsman Phil Hughes to achieve success at the start of his career, just like he did in England 16 years ago.

It was Slater’s exuberance that stood out above all else as he scored a half-century in his first Test and a big hundred in his second at Lord’s on the 1993 Ashes tour.

Slater feels it is that exuberance that will help Hughes, 20, succeed in South Africa, with the Test squad leaving Monday for a showdown that could decide top spot on the world Test rankings.

“I’m putting him down for a terrific start to his Test career,” Slater was quoted as saying in The Australian.

“It’s that high you are running on. You are riding the crest of a wave, living the dream, as I did when I lived my boyhood dream going to England in 1993.”

“You just roll along with that energy. The excitement takes you to another level.”

Slater was 23 when he made his Test debut, but a bicycle accident at the cricket academy had hindered the beginning of his career and he had played fewer Sheffield Shield matches than Hughes.

The young New South Wales opener had averaged 58 across 11 Shield matches for NSW over two years with three hundreds when he was the surprise choice in 1993.

Hughes has averaged 69 across 14 Shield games over two seasons with five centuries, including 891 runs at 74 in seven games this season.

“He has played enough now to build a solid foundation,” Slater says. “It’s his second season and he got to continue that right the way through. He has proved to himself that he can cut it at first-class level, and that’s the important thing.

“It will be tough because South Africa bowl to our batsmen like we have bowled to other teams over the years.”

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