Sydney, Aug.23 (ANI): Former New South Wales coach and Australian keeper Steve Rixon expects forgotten opener Phil Jaques to return with such vengeance this season that he puts serious pressure on the Test partnership of Simon Katich and Shane Watson.
Rixon, who is the president of Sutherland grade club where Jaques plays, said the 30-year-old left-hander still faces an anxious time in his recovery from back surgery, but if he regains full fitness he could resume his place at the top of the Australia's batting order.
"Jaquesy will put a lot of pressure on the Test openers this season, I've got no doubt. 'He'll be opening the batting with Hughesy this year in the NSW side and he will be planting runs on the board to the point where he will be hard to ignore," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Rixon, as saying.
In his 11 Test matches, Jaques scored 902 runs at an average of 47.47, including three centuries. In his most recent Test knock, in June 2008, he scored a second-innings 108. However, he was soon dropped for the returning Matthew Hayden.
By that time Jaques's back problems were getting worse and he came home for an operation. He attempted a comeback before last summer's tour of South Africa, but soon required another operation.
Hughes went to South Africa instead and became the opener of choice until Watson took over after the second Ashes Test.
Jaques has since been in the background but, despite losing his Cricket Australia contract, has refused to give up on his Test career, saying in May: "All I want to do is get back on the park. When I am fit and healthy I will put scores on the board, I know that."
"He's a guy that's a run machine. All he needs is his fitness back. That's his priority. We're very keen to get him back into club cricket at Sutherland as quickly as possible. He's going to work doubly hard to get his body right. Severe back problems are not something you can get over easily," he said.
Blues selector Brian Taber will closely monitor Jaques's progress. He confirmed that Jaques was on track to play at the beginning of the grade season late next month.
"I hope he picks up where he left off. His last Test innings was a hundred," Taber said. (ANI)