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Worcestershire hopes are hit by Hughes call-up for Australia
WORCESTERSHIRE’S hopes of bringing Phil Hughes back to New Road for the coming season suffered a blow when the batsman was included in Australia’s one-day international squad for the home series against Sri Lanka.
The left-hander, who is set to make his international limited overs debut for the Baggy Greens in Melbourne on Friday, now looks set to spend the summer playing for his country in all forms of the game, which will further restrict his potential Worcestershire availability.
On the back of his brilliant form for the New Road club last term, Hughes was recalled to the Australian Test side and has gone on to be one of their most important players ahead of the Ashes summer.
Worcestershire director of cricket Steve Rhodes is still hopeful of bringing Hughes back as the County’s main overseas player for the coming season, but his limited availability could now scupper the deal.
Hughes’ inclusion in Australia’s squad for the Commonwealth Bank one-day series with Sri Lanka is an indicator that he will also be selected for the Champions Trophy, which is in the middle of the English domestic season.
Rhodes explained: “If Phil is now going to be playing all formats of the game for Australia, that is a slight worry, but we wouldn’t throw away the fact he could still be playing for us.
“We have cricket in April and May, before the Champions Trophy starts in early June, so Phil may be in a position where he could still play for us. He has said he will be happy to play for us again this season, we just need to know what his availability will be.
“It is a real headache in many ways for us — but in a nice way for Phil — because he is a great guy, a run-thief who just doesn’t stop scoring.
“At the moment, we don’t know. You might think that is a crazy situation as we’re getting close to the season, but there is still water to pass under the bridge for Phil in his Australian summer.
“We have to try and fit the pieces of the jigsaw together to try and get the most out of him, but we don’t know how much that would be.”
Last season, Hughes topped Worcestershire’s batting averages in the Clydesdale Bank 40 with 83 and feels he is ready for all formats of the game.
He said: “I’ve come a long way in one-day cricket. I felt like I performed quite well during my stint in England with Worcestershire and now for South Australia.”