Ricky Ponting's retirement may pave the way for Phil Hughes' redemption as a Test cricketer, but statistics indicate it will be the 24-year-old's ability to keep the ball on the ground rather than in the air which will be key to him staying in the baggy green.

It has been 12 months since Hughes last played Test cricket for Australia and the nature of his dismissals in that match against New Zealand in Hobart confirmed a long-held suspicion that Hughes' technique meant he was prone to getting out caught.

The repeated dismissal method of 'caught Martin Guptill bowled Chris Martin' stood out like a beacon and left nobody in doubt that Hughes' career was at the crossroads.

In fact those four dismissals mean that Hughes' past eight Test dismissals have all been either behind the wicket or in the slips cordon, a damning indictment on his much-scrutinised technique.

In total, according to cricket website cricinfo.com, 84 per cent (26) of Hughes 31 Test dismissals have been caught, with 22 of those being in the behind-the-wicket region.

That percentage of caught dismissals stands in stark contrast to average dismissal ratio in Test cricket in general.

Look at the stats of top 10 run scorers in history and you'll see that around 63 percent of their dismissals are caught. Sachin Tendulkar has been out caught 166 times in 287 Test innings (58 per cent), the lowest of the top 10 list, while the highest is Sri Lanka's Mahela Jayawardene (72 per cent).

There is a suggestion that Hughes as an opener has been exposed to the new ball, and therefore more likely to be out edging, something he won't have to confront now at No.3.

But previous Australian openers have hovered in the 60-65 per cent range, with Simon Katich the highest of recent times and Mark Taylor the lowest at less than 58 per cent.

Statistics can be misleading, and also inflated early in a player's career. West Indies batsman Jimmy Adams averaged over 80 in his first 16 Tests, but would finish around 40 at the end of his 54-Test career.

But Hughes' stats tell the story of a batsman, who while talented, and technically sound in protecting his wickets, has traditionally failed to keep the ball on the ground, something that all the greats have done well and consistently well.

We'll find out in the first Test whether he has learned his lesson over the past 12 months.


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