BIRMINGHAM // Philip Hughes brought about a first in international cricket yesterday after revealing his omission from the Australia team via the internet. The batsman, 20, who has been dropped in favour of all-rounder Shane Watson, released the news on his Twitter page before captain Ricky Ponting had named his side for the third Ashes Test against England at Edgbaston.
Hughes wrote: "Disappointed not to be on the field with the lads today, will be supporting the guys, it's a BIG test match 4 us. Thanks 4 all the support!" Whether Hughes will be punished for his premature disclosure is yet to be confirmed but Cricket Australia may well crack down on their players using online networking sites. Dean Jones, the former Australia player, wasted little time in registering his disgust at Hughes's actions - saying the youngster should be punished.
"Phil Hughes announcing he's been dropped on Twitter is just wrong," he said. "He needs a good foot up the backside for that. He's broken a team rule and he's let the opposition know what's happened before the game's started." The promising Hughes has struggled for runs in his debut Ashes series, despite having enjoyed a wonderful start to his career in England with Middlesex. The left-handed opener scored freely in the English County Championship at the start of the summer and his innings of 68 against Northamptonshire earlier in the week had looked to have secured his place in the side.
Australia put their trust in Watson, who scored 84 and 50 in the tour match at Wantage Road, while his ability to bowl at a medium pace will ease the pressure on Mitchell Johnson. Watson, 28, certainly did not disappoint as he opened the batting for Australia yesterday with Simon Katich. The pair put on 85 together after the first 90 minutes play with Watson's share of them being 38 while Katich had 46 before falling lbw to Graeme Swann.
Watson's ability to score quickly has allowed him to open the batting in Twenty20 and one-day cricket, but he is an unknown quantity when it comes to the longest format of the game. His talent is undoubted but he has struggled to fulfil his potential after being constantly haunted by a back problem. A highest Test match score of 78 against India in Mohali last October remains Watson's most successful appearance with the bat.
Now though he has the opportunity to turn the tide of this Ashes series, and that is incentive enough for him to succeed this summer. firstname.lastname@example.org