How to bowl at new Australian batting star Phillip Hughes

There is no doubt that Phillip Hughes, the 20-year old new Australian Test opener who is now playing for Middlesex, is a very talented individual.
I bowled at him for Glamorgan when he made his Championship debut against us a couple of weeks ago, at Lord’s, and marked that occasion with a hundred in his first innings for the club.

Since then there have plenty more runs too, including another hundred against Leicestershire, and England will have to do their homework on him before they come up against him in the Ashes in July and August.
With Andrew Strauss playing alongside him at Middlesex, though, and plenty of opportunity for others to watch him on the county circuit, there can be no excuse for England not having a plan against him when the time comes.
What I can say, from my first sighting (and he got runs in the second innings at Lord’s too), is that he has a very simple method against both seam bowling and spin bowling: if it is straight and on a good length he blocks it and if the ball is even slightly off line or length he throws the kitchen sink at it.
He is used to scoring quickly, and he is quick between the wickets. He reminds me of Justin Langer in build, as he is not very tall and is also left-handed, but not in the way he plays! He is not a manipulator of the ball.
If you bowl slightly short outside off stump then he will murder you. And, even if you pack the offside – especially square and behind square – he will still go for those cut shots. Moreover, as we found when we tried to put three or four fielders in that arc, some up in a catching position and others back on the fence, he will still pick off the boundaries. He is so strong there.
Against spin, if you give him width, he also throws his arms at it and, because he uses the crease so well, he can get back and cut even balls that are not that short from spinner and seamer alike.
My initial view is that you simply have to bowl over the middle stump against him. Someone from over the wicket who bowls like Matthew Hoggard and can get the ball to dip back into the left-handers, will have a good chance of an lbw against him.
He is not so prolific on the legside, either, so if you cramp him up by getting it to move back into his pads on middle then all well and good. Against Hughes, and the Australian batsmen generally in my opinion, the England bowlers will simply have to get the ball moving laterally.
Reverse swing, rather than conventional swing, might be critical if we have the dry summer that is being predicted. But also playing two spinners, Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar, is another big option against Hughes and Australia.

Having played at Cardiff recently, too, I can say for certain that if a similar pitch is produced there for the opening Ashes Test then two spinners MUST be selected.
Robert Croft, the Glamorgan and former England off spinner, also works for Sky Sports

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