Hughes to fill in for Hayden in South Africa tour

February 5th, 2009 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Melbourne, Feb 5 (IANS) Talented young opening batsman Phillip Hughes has been drafted in place of retired Matthew Hayden in the Test squad against South Africa announced Thursday.Hughes scored 891 runs at 74.25 this season and is set to make his Test debut Feb 26 in Johannesburg, with selectors choosing just two specialist openers.

The 20-year-old New South Wales opener will become Australia’s youngest Test debutant since Craig McDermott played as a teenager against the West Indies in December 1984.

Victorian leg-spinner Bryce McGain, 36, has been included in the 14-member squad having recovered from a shoulder injury that ruled him out of Australia’s tour of India in October.

The other surprise selection is Western Australia’s batting all-rounder Marcus North, who is likely to fight Victoria’s Andrew McDonald for the No.6 position vacated by Andrew Symonds.

Chairman of selectors, Andrew Hildtich, said he was excited by Hughes’s potential.

“Phillip has been given the fairly daunting task of filling the shoes of one of Australia’s greatest batsmen Matthew Hayden.

“From the time of his century in the Sheffield Shield final last season and through this year, he has played extremely well and we are confident that he is someone with the potential to have a long international career,” Hilditch said.

Hughes will open alongside his state captain, Simon Katich. Fellow NSW opening batsman Phil Jaques has missed selection despite scoring a century in his last Test match against the West Indies.

The national selection panel decided he had not played enough cricket since returning from back surgery.

“Phil Jaques has bravely come back from back surgery in an attempt to make himself available for the tour, but in the selection panel’s view, he has simply not played enough cricket since surgery to force his way into the team.”

Australia squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Phillip Hughes, Simon Katich, Michael Hussey, Andrew McDonald, Brad Haddin (wicket-keeper), Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Doug Bollinger, Bryce McGain, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Hauritz, Marcus North.

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