Phillip Hughes and the short ball

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Phillip Hughes demonstrates impeccable technique against the short ball

An opening batsman who averages over 50 in Test and first-class cricket has not been ‘found out’ if he makes a right royal hash of a couple of short balls.

Phillip Hughes had three Test innings in England in 2009 and got dropped. Had Don Bradman been found out in 1936 when he made 38, 0 and 0 in successive innings against England? No, of course not. Three of his last four innings in that series were 270, 212 and 169.

Phillip Hughes is no Bradman, but he didn’t get into Test cricket with some huge, pulsating, neon Achilles’ heel that had previously gone undetected. It might be worth bowling short at him to test him out, but we’re sick of reading articles where it’s made out that he’s a walking wicket.

Three dismissals takes just three balls out of the many thousands faced by Hughes. He’s smeared far more balls to the fence than he’s popped to the keeper.

Don’t get us wrong. We hope he peppers the slip cordon in brief, pathetic visits to the crease, but we don’t think it’ll happen. You’re flawless or incompetent in the eyes of many, but no-one in international cricket is either of those things – not since India stopped picking Ajit Agarkar anyway.


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  1. Further milk on your cocopops: Interview with Hughes in the Herald sun where he, not unsurprisingly, pooh-poohs the short ball notion. He might be more worried about his first-class stats this season (listed at bottom of the piece). 201 runs at 25. Looking around State cricket we can prob presume he’s not been up against a fearsome bouncy barrage so perhaps he’ll be delighted if England lose a bit of focus by trying to hit him.

  2. Two words for you Oh King – Vinod Kambli…

    Despite those two words still broadly agree that the case is not proved at this stage. Kambli had 17 games so that gives Hughes another 10 to sort things out…

  3. Resounding vague agreement from me, mighty King. He was more a victim of the nightmare that is Australian Selection Policy than he was of English bouncers.

    That’s not to say he’ll be any good. What he’ll struggle with is the weight of expectation and pressure on a batsman at the top of the innings, out of form, in the team because of injury, with a batting line up beneath him that has failed to deliver, knowing that the headlines could easily read “Hughes’ Failure Triggers Collapse” and fearful that another dropping might be the end. The 90mph bouncers from Finn will just be the icing on the cake.

  4. Ajit Agarkar’s lofted drives off the front foot were a delight to watch. Ajit Agarkar realized this, and so decided to play nothing else, regardless of bowler or delivery. Ultimately, this led to his downfall. It was supreme self-sacrifice.

    The fact that Sri Lanka regularly sodomized the bowler in him is not relevant.

  5. Here’s a problem for you:

    It seems to me that Hughes has an extremely good eye, and is phenomenally talented, but looks a bit technically suspect if you bowl to him in the right areas. If you give him width you are doomed.

    Apparently Steven Smith and Callum Ferguson are a bit suspect technically as well although I haven’t seen either of them play.

    These three are those the Aussies are pushing through to the test team.

    If you go back 20 years, all the top Aussie batsmen on the fringes of the team had superb techniques. This was apparently as a result of all the things that Aussie cricket provides: first rate facilities and coaching, flat but fast pitches etc. Or that’s what we were told over in England…

    We, at the time time, produced lots of talented but technically flawed players – Hick (before he got to 20 runs) was a prime example. This was often put down to the fact that the pitches here were so spicey that you knew you were going to get the killer ball regardless for which good technique would only be of limited help.

    I can remember an interview with Darren Lehmann saying as much in explanation of why he was a bit rubbish to start with at Yorks before becoming brilliant.

    No one doubts that Australia have got some cracking young players, but is there a sense that they aren’t technically as good as those 20 years ago?

  6. Golandaaz, we once wrote that “that century screams ’statistical aberration’ in a hoarse but insistent voice.”

    We stand by that.

    Pat, we wouldn’t claim any real technical expertise whatsoever, but what we would say is that technique is generally overlooked when a player succeeds and used as a stick with which to beat him when he fails.

    New players come under the microscope more and all batsmen have some flaw or other. It’s generally just a matter of how they adapt or compensate for it.

    In summary: dunno.

  7. Agarkar averages 47 and 17 in tests. Which other test all-rounder has figures like that? None. The man is clearly a genius, statistically speaking.

  8. On the eve of the start of the Perth test (only 9 hours to go), the talk of cocopops reminds me to present my apologies for the first two hours of the match.
    However, I will be joining any brave souls for breakfast who make it to 4am from “up all night end ” of things when I try to fit in precisely 3 hours of the test before I have to go to work.

    Tight and Ged-the-Venn, are you ready for The Breakfast Club?

  9. Pat – given how much England focus on ‘bowling in the right areas’ is it fair to say that Hughes is fucked?

  10. KC, the man was also the fastest to 50 wickets. Has 288 wickets at 28 a piece in ODIs.

    And as for bouncing people out, the whole Indian team is supposed to be suspect to short pitch bowling.

    Would love to see how that pans out.

  11. Agarkar’s wickets in one-dayers are always the result of a ‘target the shit one’ approach to batting from the opposition.

    India’s batting in South Africa is a topic for another post really. We can’t imagine any of them failing, but they might be a bit less effective.

  12. Most Indian bowlers were shit when he started off, and none of them took 250+ wickets 🙂

    Also, the famous Indian win in adelaide 2003: Agarkar.

  13. The lost point being, he was more competent than most other choices Indian had in “medium fast bowler” segment during that terrible period (late nineties to early n0ughties)

  14. Phil Hughes does not have Ajit Agarkar’s ears.

    But he does have Middlesex pedigree, which matters just as much, if not more.

    Happy to help.

  15. No Hughes to comment on, but Smith in and looking dodgy. Only Braddin to go and then we’re into the tail,,,

  16. JF – Some excellent getting up early on display there. I feel I have rather let the side down but never fear, I shall attempt to get my carcass up early tomorrow.

    I can cope with staying up late but once I am in bed it really does take a natural disaster to move me (cue jokes about the Aussie batting)

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