Perth: Recalled opener Phillip Hughes said on Tuesday that he was ready to be Australia’s Ashes saviour, despite his stuttering form with the bat in domestic cricket.
An Achilles injury to veteran Simon Katich opened the door once more for the 22-year-old Hughes for the vital third Test against England, starting Thursday at the WACA Ground in Perth.
“I am pumped and I can’t wait to get out there,” he said. “Mentally I feel really good and I am hitting them good in the nets, which is always a good sign.”
Hughes burst onto the Test scene with a pair of centuries against South Africa in his second Test, before falling out of favour during the 2009 Ashes tour of England.
He has played seven Tests for 615 runs at an impressive average of 51.25, but has managed only 201 at 22.33 in first-class cricket for New South Wales this season.
However, Hughes said his form was better than the latest statistics suggested.
“It has been disappointing that for New South Wales I haven’t really got that big score under my belt,” he said.
“But I have got a lot of starts over the last couple of weeks and I got 80 only about two-and-a-half weeks ago against England in Hobart playing for Australia A.
“That has given me huge confidence going into Thursday.”
The tourists hold a 1-0 lead in the five-Test series after a thumping innings victory in Adelaide following a draw in Brisbane, and a win in Perth would guarantee they keep hold of the Ashes they won back in England last year.
Hughes said he was a more complete player than when he made his debut 18 months ago, but vowed to maintain the same aggressive approach at the top of the order that marked the start of his Test career.
“Being quite aggressive... that is how I have always played,” he said. “That is my natural game and that is something I am not going to change.”
Hughes also dismissed ongoing talk of a technical weakness against short-pitched bowling and said he did not view the Test as career-defining.
Recalled all-rounder Steve Smith, expected to bat at number six, said he was relishing the challenge with the bat having initially won his place in the side largely for his leg-spin bowling.
“I have always wanted to play in the Australian side as a batsman,” he said.
“It is the pinnacle of Australian cricket playing in an Ashes series and I can’t wait.”
Smith revealed he had been told his role was to bring some “fun” back into the struggling Australian side.