Australia`s batting elite ordered back to school to prepare for India

Melbourne: Under-fire Australia`s top batsmen, including captain Michael Clarke, Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, have been ordered to go back to school and attend a batting camp to prepare for the Test series against India starting on December 26.

Cricket Australia has ordered Clarke, Ponting, Hussey along with Brad Haddin, Dan Christian and Shane Watson to meet for the camp, which the media here wryly described as batting boot camp, in Melbourne from December 20-22 ahead of the first Test.

The announcement comes just two days after Australia`s batting line-up collapsed in Hobart to lose the second Test against New Zealand by seven runs, the first loss at home after 26 years, and just a month after they were dismissed for 47 against South Africa in Cape Town.

CA general manager Pat Howard said injured Shaun Marsh will also join the camp if he is fit to do so.

"The camp is designed to complement rather than duplicate the preparation of those batsmen playing in the Chairman`s XI in Canberra, which includes David Warner, Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja and Ed Cowan," Howard said.

"This camp has been scheduled prior to the Australian Test squad being announced and then coming together on December 22. We continue to monitor Shaun Marsh and are hopeful he will be available for this camp," he said.

Meanwhile, Hughes, who is almost certain to lose his spot in the Australian side for the first Test after a string of low scores against New Zealand, has been granted permission to withdraw from Big Bash League starting on Friday to focus on his batting.

"Phillip Hughes has taken a decision in the interests of his personal development, to focus on the long form of the game. Phillip, in close consultation with CA and Sydney Thunder, has decided not to compete with the Thunder this season," Howard said.

Hughes was due to play for Sydney Thunder, which start their BBL campaign against Melbourne Stars on Saturday, but will instead by-pass the tournament.

He has been afforded one last chance to fight for his Test spot when he plays for the CA Chairman`s XI in a three-day game against India in Canberra starting on Monday.

"Following my performances over the last few months, I have decided that, right now, I need to be completely focused on my first-class cricket career," Hughes said in a statement.

"I`m obviously disappointed that I haven`t been able to score the runs in the last few Tests that I know I am capable of and I want to do everything I can to ensure that my game continues to develop.”

"I`m now focusing on next week`s Chairman`s XI game in Canberra and can`t wait to face the Indian bowlers."


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