Hughes for South Africa: Border

Test legend believes South Australian has been 'badly treated'

Former Australia captain Allan Border believes Phil Hughes’ coming and going from the national side had been poorly handled, and insists the 25-year-old is “so far in front of any other contender it’s not funny”.

Hughes has played 26 Tests since debuting in spectacular fashion in South Africa in 2009 but was dropped for the third time after the second Ashes Test in England last year.

While Border is content for George Bailey to retain his place in the Ashes-winning side, he is adamant that Hughes should be on the plane to South Africa ahead of Tasmanian Alex Doolan.

“Well apparently (Alex) Doolan is right in the frame but I’d stick with George Bailey,” Border told radio station 2SM in NSW. “No good reason for it, he didn’t set the world on fire in the Test series but I just think we won an Ashes contest 5-0 and I’d be loathe to change the karma of the side.

“There’s no-one really knocking the door down with hundred after hundred after hundred – I mean Doolan is averaging in the 30s.

“I have a very soft spot for young (Phil) Hughes and I think he’s been badly treated in the past ... maybe they’re just making him really earn his stripes again this time.

“He’s just so far in front of any other contender it’s not funny, so I’m hoping they’ll take Hughes on the plane (to South Africa). It looks like Doolan’s jumped in front of him and I’m not 100 per cent sure why. I think Hughes is definitely in the frame.”

Adding to his claims has been Hughes’ Sheffield Shield form with South Australia this summer, scoring 549 runs at 61 with three centuries.

Border also shared his thoughts on the Shane Watson conundrum, as the allrounder takes a rest from the Carlton Mid ODI series.

“What happens is that people are annoyed that he doesn’t use the talent he’s got as much as we think he should,” he explained.

“He’s more talented than averaging 35 in Test cricket and bowling 10 overs off a shortened run at 128 clicks. He is such a good cricketer that we just expect more from him.

“It frustrates everyone, and probably him included. I think he gets frustrated his body doesn’t seem to be able to cope with the rigours of it all. It’s a hard one to put your finger on because he’s such a good cricketer – potentially, not numbers-wise.”