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Selectors tip Hughes to perform

Sportal December 6, 2012, 4:42 pm

Australian chairman of selectors John Inverarity says it is the 'right time' for Phil Hughes to make his return to the national team after the left-hander was included in a 12-man squad to face Sri Lanka in the first Test in Hobart.

Hughes, who has made 524 first-class runs at 47.63 for South Australia this summer, won a race of four over Rob Quiney, Usman Khawaja and Alex Doolan to replace the retired Ricky Ponting in the squad.

Quiney was the choice to bat at first drop against South Africa in Brisbane and Adelaide, but scored just nine runs in his three Test innings and was dropped when all-rounder Shane Watson returned for Perth.

Inverarity said the National Selection Panel overlooked Hughes at that time because they wanted to ensure he was in the best possible form when he came into the team.

"We felt that for the South African series that Quiney was the right man," Inverarity said.

"We look to Phil Hughes to be one of our players for the future, a real long-term player.

"When we were considering the South African series we were very keen for Phil Hughes to come in when his form was absolutely right and under the right circumstances for him.

"We did feel that throwing him in against the world No.1 team with their attack was probably not the ideal set of circumstances for him and we feel the time now is absolutely right for him."

Hughes was dropped from the Australian team after last year's two-Test series against New Zealand when he was dismissed four times in exactly the same mode - caught at slip by Martin Guptill off the bowling of Chris Martin.

That was Hughes' second stint in the Australian team after he was first dropped during the 2009 Ashes when he scored only 57 runs in the first two Tests as the English bowlers attacked his body with short-pitched bowling.

Inverarity said his form through weight of numbers warranted a return.

"His technique, if you watched him closely 12 months ago and now, his scoring range is very different," Inverarity said.

"He's scoring through the leg-side, off his pads much better, driving on the onside and pulling short balls, which wasn't the case 12 months ago.

"So I think he's developed his game and it's much harder now for bowlers in a sense to corner him."

Both Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus returned to the squad after they were rested in Perth, but Inverarity said the Tasmanian was not guaranteed to play.

"Well there's the four pace bowlers. I would say that Peter Siddle is certain. But Ben Hilfenhaus is not a lock-in, no," Inverarity said.

"I think the common consensus is, and I think the way the panel sees it, I thought Mitch Johnson did very well and was our best bowler throughout the game in Perth."

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