Redbacks number three Phil Hughes is making tons of runs – just when the national selectors are in no mood for change.
Hughes’ 118 during a six-hour stay at the crease on Monday rescued South Australia from the dire position of 3-82 to a first innings of 426 in reply to NSW’s first innings of 373.
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It is the 25-year-old’s third ton of the summer, and the 24th of his first class career, cementing his place as the next in line for Darren Lehmann’s Test team.
Hughes will find it hard to force his way into the Ashes series, with Australia leading 2-0 and taking an unchanged squad to Perth for Friday’s third Test.
But he could find himself on a plane to South Africa in the new year for the three-Test tour in February.
“All I want to do is continue to score runs. That’s what they’ve (selectors) told me to do,” he said.
“I just love to be talked about.
“That’s something that I want to keep doing, keep making noise and scoring as many behind me as possible.
“If something comes up around the selection table that I’m one of the few they’re talking about, that’s something that I’d really love.
“I want to just continue to make big statements with big runs.”
Hughes has had three lives in Test cricket already – having been dropped in England in 2009, after a disastrous home series against New Zealand in 2011-12 and again in England this year.
But he’s returned with a point to prove in the Shield, where he has smashed 547 runs at an average of 68 – second only to 34-year-old Marcus North (593 at 98.8).
All of his trademarks were on display at the SCG as he cut and drove with distinction during a 144-run partnership with Callum Ferguson – who also batted superbly to hit an impressive 80 as the pair rescued the Redbacks.
South Australia have a 53-run lead and first innings points after being bowled out for 426.
A 74-run eighth-wicket partnership between lower-order batsman Kane Richardson (40) and Joe Mennie (45) on Tuesday secured the vital two first innings points.
That temporarily draws SA level with first-placed NSW on 18 points, though with a day and a half still to play, both sides will be chasing an outright victory.
Richardson’s 40-run cameo came at a run-a-ball and included three boundaries and three sixes, two of which came off one expensive over from offspinner Steve O’Keefe (3-93).
Resuming on Tuesday at 5-288, Johan Botha (36) and Tim Ludeman set about reeling in the remaining runs before their 32-run partnership was ended by Trent Copeland, the pick of NSW’s bowlers with 4-92.
Copeland’s figures took him past 200 career first-class wickets in his 53rd match.
Blues allrounder Moises Henriques, who bagged a century in the Blues’ first innings, claimed the final two wickets to own figures of 2-48.
In their second innings, NSW struggled early losing two wickets for just three runs…still trailing by 50.
In other Shield matches Western Australia led Tasmania by 177 runs after wickets tumbled on day two at Bellerive.
At stumps, the Warriors were 5-115 in their second innings and with the upper hand after 15 wickets fell on a dramatic day’s play.
Tasmania were dismissed for 196, 62 behind the Warriors’ first-innings total of 258.
Western Australia fared little better early in their second dig and were 4-32 before Marsh and Ashton Turner (30) steadied.
At the Gabba, the stage is set for David Hussey to emerge as Victoria’s unlikely hero against Queensland.
At stumps on day two, the Bushrangers are 5-230 with Hussey not out 41 in reply to the Bulls’ first innings of 8(dec)-382.
Queensland struck a telling blow before stumps when captain Matthew Wade (35) was caught behind off Ben Cutting (1-56), ending a 75-run fifth wicket stand with Hussey as Victoria again stumbled in their first innings run chase.
Hussey was initially overlooked for the game but now all eyes are on the veteran as second last Victoria try to kick-start their Shield campaign.
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