West End Redbacks coach Darren Berry says he’s disappointed with Phil Hughes’ Zimbabwe ODI tour snub, believing the opening batsman’s form was strong enough to warrant selection.
Despite scoring 202 not out against South Africa A in Darwin, along with two half-centuries in the tournament, Hughes wasn’t included in the 14-man squad to tour Zimbabwe for a tri-series involving the host nation and South Africa this month.
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Many believed Hughes would come in for the absent David Warner and Shaun Marsh, who weren’t considered for selection due to personal matters and injury, respectively.
National Selection Panel (NSP) chairman Rod Marsh explained the decision behind Hughes’ omission, saying it wasn’t easy to disregard his prolific form after the dashing left-hander scored Australia’s first double century in list-A cricket.
“With Warner missing we had a choice between Steven Smith and Phillip Hughes, because if you have a look at the rest of them they pick themselves,” said Marsh in Adelaide.
“George Bailey is number two in the world, Michael Clarke is the captain and you can’t drop him, you’ve got (Aaron) Finch who has been extremely successful, you’ve got (Shane) Watson who’s an allrounder and then you’ve got Steven Smith who for the same reason hasn’t been playing one-day cricket as Nathan Lyon; we wanted to establish him as a Test match player.
“I think we’ve done that, he’s been terrific and I think everyone knows his capabilities in the short form of the game – both 50-over cricket and 20-over cricket.
“It was a tough decision, I promise you. We agonised over that because we want to reward blokes who do well.
“We pick an Australia A side, the kid gets 100, 200 and two fifties, in between that his grandfather dies and he still doesn’t get picked.
“That’s tough love, but the love is that we do have him in our notebook.
“He’s a good player, we know he’s a good player and his time will come.”
Hughes averaged a Bradmanesque 110.66 in four matches in the quad series, and is the only Australian to score a century on ODI debut, scoring 112 against Sri Lanka in January 2013 at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Berry empathises with the NSP’s dilemma, but feels his Redback run machine had the earned the right to push for an ICC Cricket World Cup spot and represent his country again in the 50-over format.
“We were a little disappointed this morning here in South Australia that Phillip Hughes’ name wasn’t on there,” Berry told cricket.com.au.
“I fully understand selection is not an exact science, and I respect the position the Australian selectors have.
“It’s never easy to fit everybody in. I’ve heard from Rod Marsh and spoken to the coach (Darren Lehmann) very openly, (with) good forthright discussion between Darren and I.
“He said, ‘Mate, we love how he’s going, it’s all positive but we couldn’t fit him in’.
“His recent form we felt was excellent and we felt as though this morning we’d have (fast bowler Kane) Richardson and Hughes in, (but) it wasn’t to be.
“There’s one simple answer when not selected and that’s for Phillip to once again come back to the Redbacks and dominate, and I’m sure that’s what his state of mind will be – to pile on the runs for South Australia.
“I know he has ambitions to represent Australia at all levels, not just Test level, all levels, and his record is good at all forms.”