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Hilditch backs Hughes as Aussie opener

Hilditch backs Hughes as Aussie opener

Hughes is expected to be the right replacement for Hayden.

Sydney: Australian cricket’s chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch has given opener Phillip Hughes a ringing endorsement as Australia looks to replace Matthew Hayden

Hilditch's comments are a sign the selectors are seriously considering the 20-year-old for higher honours in the not too distant future.

"As far as Phillip Hughes is concerned, he is a very fine player and showing great potential," the Courier Mail quoted Hilditch, as saying.

"Some players will unfortunately have to play three or four years of first class cricket and put up huge numbers to force their way in the side and others, if the opportunity presents itself will be considered earlier than that,” he added.

"He is quite exciting, he is a young player who obviously has an ability to score big runs in (Sheffield) Shield cricket, he is an exciting player and we are watching him carefully," he said.

Hilditch''s comments must be highly encouraging as Hughes'' youth and relative inexperience even in first class ranks have been highlighted as possible stumbling blocks in his path to a Test berth.

The 20-year-old''s ability to also play as a back-up wicketkeeper could help in squad selections for upcoming tours of South Africa and England this year.

Hughes has posted 1337 runs at 53.48 in 16 first class matches to date and just under 60 in the Sheffield Shield this summer.

first published:January 08, 2009, 16:18 IST