Phil Hughes can succeed in Ashes if he bats straight, says Mark Ramprakash
Phil Hughes can prosper in the Ashes if he keeps batting conventionally, says Mark Ramprakash.
Last Updated: 22/03/13 2:15pm
Left-hander Hughes found life difficult when he toured England in 2009, amassing just 57 runs from the opening two Tests of the five-match series, before being dropped for the final three.
Meanwhile, the New South Wales-born star - who has played county cricket for Middlesex, Hampshire and Worcestershire - averages just 17.11 from his quintet of Tests against England at home and away.
However, Hughes scored 45 on the opening day of Australia's fourth and final Test with India in Delhi, and Ramprakash says the 24-year-old's new-found perpendicular batsmanship could serve him well, both defensively and offensively, this summer.
"He played a lot straighter than I've seen him before," the ex-England man said of Hughes, who accrued totals of 6, 0, 19 and 0 in the first two clashes with India, in Chennai and Hyderabad.
"He likes to play square of the wicket, but if you are going to survive and score you need to play straight; he looked still and well balanced, which is a good sign for Australia ahead of the Ashes.
"Hughes is a really attractive player when he drives the ball and his timing was imperious today (Friday); you could tell that by listening to the sound off the bat.
"He looked controlled and confident - there were some nice clipped shots off Ravichandran Ashwin - and it seems that getting 69 in the last game (in Mohali) has helped him."
Australia, who have already sunk to a series defeat in India following losses in the first three encounters, ended day one in Delhi on 231-8 after Shane Watson, back in the side and standing in as captain for the injured Michael Clarke, elected to bat.
Seamer Peter Siddle (47 not out) recorded his best Test innings to top score, while Hughes, Steve Smith (46) and Ed Cowan (38) also made valuable contributions, on a day in which India spinner Ashwin plucked four wickets.
But former Baggy Green all-rounder Ian Harvey was frustrated by some of the batting performances of the Antipodeans' top order and was particularly irked by opener David Warner, who cracked the fourth ball of the match into the hands of slip fielder Virat Kohli to depart for a duck.
"The first session probably went in Australia's favour - they were 92-2 at lunch - but they have had horror sessions in this series and they had another in session two," said Harvey, after witnessing his country fall from 106-2 to 136-7.
"However, Australia dragged it back towards the end and showed that if you bat time you can post a decent total, so they will be fairly happy with the fact they haven't been bowled out.
"It was a gutsy performance and things could have been a lot worse - but the worrying thing is that once again the tail-end has had to show the top order how to spend time at the crease."
Harvey added: "Warner has come in through the shorter forms of the game but you have to adapt; he can be aggressive, of course, but you can only use that excuse for so long and have to modify your game to the conditions.
"Other players have done that, plus he is able to make up runs later on, so I am a little bit disappointed that he is playing (such an aggressive) shot like that against the fourth ball of the day."
Catch day two of the fourth Test between India and Australia from 3.55am on Saturday on Sky Sports 3 HD.