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Hughes poised to knock Watson down a few pegs: Katich

Posted By: Staff

Sydney, Nov.12 (ANI): Australian opener Simon Katich has said he expects fellow New South Wales opening partner Phillip Hughes to make a comeback to the Test squad against the West Indies, and a push down the order for current opener Shane Watson.

Katich, who is preparing for the first Test against the West Indies to be played in Brisbane later this month, believes that Hughes has benefited from the experience of being dumped and will make his comeback count, both in the short and long term.

"All players at some point in their career get dropped from a team, whether it be Australia or domestically. I think in Hughesy's case, he has responded beautifully, copped it on the chin, went away and he's kept churning runs out and had the right attitude - that's the key, make sure you use it positively rather than let it eat away at you," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Katich, as saying.

"There's no doubt that form in the last few months has been outstanding and he grabbed his opportunities in the Ashes beautifully. He is used to batting at the top of the order in the one-day format ... and he's batted down the order in four-day cricket in the past. That is the beauty of being adaptable; if you can play a variety of roles, you're going to be of more value to the team," Katich added.

Australia's chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, has already said that Hughes was "going to be strongly considered for the first Test", to start on November 26 in Brisbane.

Hilditch is looking at Watson as a "flexible" batting option who can move down the order.

Essentially, the message from Hilditch during an interview with the Herald yesterday was that Hughes was not ready for an English pace barrage, but would be more than capable of handling the less dangerous West Indies quicks on home soil.

"It was an extremely tough call on a young cricketer , it was not a decision we took lightly," Hilditch said.

"At that moment, in that series ... England had very good plans against him that were working. We had to change. As far as Phil Hughes is concerned, I've made it very clear that he is a long-term player. He is certainly in the running, we've been watching how he's been going in the Sheffield Shield ... He is going to be strongly considered for the first Test," he added.

While acknowledging Watson's excellent exploits as an opener for the remainder of the Ashes series, Hilditch suggested that moving him down the order to accommodate Hughes would only strengthen Australia's squad as preparations begin to win back the Ashes next year.

That places Michael Hussey under the greatest threat of all batsmen. While he hit a century in the final Ashes Test - his first in 28 Test innings - and has been the leading scorer in Australia's one-day tour of India so far, age counts against him.

Selectors must consider whether he can regain and sustain form, or if the team would be better served experimenting with other options - namely Watson at No.5, with Michael Clarke moving up one spot - from now to build momentum. (ANI)

Story first published: Thursday, November 12, 2009, 11:46 [IST]
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