Mar 262013
 

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Phillip Hughes

Back in the mix … Cox predicts Hughes will have a good series in England. Source: Chris Crerar / AAP

Former national selector Jamie Cox believes Phil Hughes and Nathan Lyon will fill pivotal Ashes roles despite turbulent rides in Australia’s 4-0 trainweck against India on the subcontinent.

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Off-spinner Lyon was inexplicably axed for the innings and 135-run second Test loss in Hyderabad in one of the great selection blunders of all time.

Lyon hit back with a career-best nine wicket haul in the final Delhi Test to finish Australia’s most successful bowler of the series with 15 wickets. Speedsters James Pattinson and Peter Siddle took nine scalps apiece.

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Hughes was threatened with the axe but the suspensions of Shane Watson and Usman Khawaja for the third Test in Mohali triggered a mini resurgence from the left-hander.

Tall off-spinner Ravi Ashwin claimed Hughes five times on subcontinent minefields that the great top-order hope won’t encounter in the Old Dart.

“Hughesy has been coming in against spin in Indian conditions which he wouldn’t have seen much of,” noted Cox of Hughes, who mustered 147 runs at 18.3 in India but top scored with 69 in Mohali before receiving a shocking lbw verdict.

“He is only a little bloke and a left hander so there is already a pile of rough under his nose.”

Former Australian skipper Ricky Ponting averaged just 26.48 in 14 Tests away against India from 1996-2010 – underlining how the legends can struggle against spin on the subcontinent.

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Cox believes Hughes will thrive in the key No. 3 slot against England in a return to the conditions that saw him thrive and rebuild his career with Worcestershire last year.

“It is very easy to get stuck and he’s not the first bloke to get stuck in an Indian rut,” South Australian cricket director Cox said.

“Look at Ricky Ponting’s record in India as a great player.

“I fully expect Phil Hughes to be batting at No.3 in the Ashes. I have no doubt he will have a good series in England.”

The decision to recall left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty and introduce allrounder Glenn Maxwell ahead of Lyon stumped most observers including Cox.

Lyon stunned India with a first-innings 7-94 in the fourth Test – eclipsing his previous best 5-34 on debut against Sri Lanka at Galle two years ago.

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