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Phil Hughes


Hughes happy to bat where he's told

Phil Hughes has been playing a unique game of musical chairs in the Australian batting order this Ashes tour.

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Now his chair could be up for grabs for the third Test at Old Trafford.

Hughes could be the unlucky man to make way for David Warner after failing to capitalise in Australia's three-day match against county cricket side Sussex at Hove.

The 24-year-old admits it's not ideal to have batted everywhere from No.1-6 in the three tour matches and two Tests so far.

Incredibly, Hughes tops the aggregate and average (66) this tour batting in six different positions.

At stumps on day one the Australians were 5-354, with Steve Smith highly impressive on 98 not out and poised for his third hundred since arriving in the UK.

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Smith looks like bucking the trend of Australian batsmen being unable to go on, which sadly continued despite friendly batting conditions at Hove.

In response to a shocker at Lord's, Hughes made a determined 84 against a weakened Sussex on Friday, but it was still his fifth half century in the UK this trip.

Hughes says he feels "mentally frustrated" and "mixed up" by being shifted up and down the order, but hopes he's still done enough to hold his spot for the must-win third Test starting next Thursday in Manchester.

"Overall I feel confident and hopefully I'll be in that third Test side when it's selected," he said.

"I don't mind where I bat but when you do move from 1-6, mentally it can be frustrating.

"At times it can be tough to get your head around the different positions but you've just got to get on with it."

Hughes was dropped when on 22 and looked uneasy during the first half of his innings.

That could have been forgiven had he been able to post a hundred.

He wasn't the only player to throw away an opportunity; Ed Cowan scooped one to square leg off his pads to fall for 66, while Usman Khawaja lost his concentration against the spin of Monty Panesar and was out for 40.

On one level Hughes' versatility is a good thing, but his nomad status also reflects his vulnerability in the side.

Hughes knows he hasn't been able to nail down a spot with the majority of his runs coming against county teams.

Now Warner, fresh from 193 for Australia A in South Africa, is hot on the heels of any under-performing batsman. 

"It's about opportunity. If you do get one position you do want to nail it down. I haven't nailed it down," he said.

At the same time, Hughes doesn't feel he deserves to be punted on account of his poor showing at Lord's where he made 1 and 1 and wasted two decision reviews.

"The last Test match obviously didn't go to plan personally but it's only one game," he said.

"I felt like the first Test match the 81no I scored (at Trent Bridge) was probably one of the better innings I've scored in the international arena.

"I think there's always competition and that's a good thing. It's great to see Davey score a big 190 for Australia A and I thought we all batted quite well today."

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