Axed Hughes a fall guy for Johnson: Media

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> Phillip Hughes has paid the price for paceman Mitchell Johnson's form slump in the Ashes series against England, Australian ex-Test players and media said.

Updated: July 31, 2009 09:12 IST
  • Total Shares


Abandoned opening batsman Phillip Hughes has paid the price for paceman Mitchell Johnson's form slump in the Ashes series against England, Australian ex-Test players and media said on Friday.

The dumping of the 20-year-old for the third Edgbaston Test dominated commentary on the opening day's play as his replacement Shane Watson batted through to the rain-affected close.

All-rounder Watson, who was unbeaten on 62 in his side's 126 for one, will bolster Australia's seam attack as Johnson struggles with the ball.

Hughes was dropped after hitting 36 in the drawn first Test in Cardiff and scores of four and 17 in England's 115-run victory at Lord's, which put the home side 1-0 up in the five-match series with three Tests to play.

"It is the circumstances of squeezing Hughes out to shoehorn Shane Watson into the side that has again raised questions about the continuing ad hoc nature of Australia's selections," The Australian's Malcolm Conn said.

"The selection panel is robbing Phil Hughes to save Mitchell Johnson.

"There is no question that while Hughes has not looked convincing during this series, it is not his form that has cost him his place so soon in the series. It is spearhead Mitchell Johnson's complete radar meltdown."

Sydney Morning Herald columnist Peter Roebuck said the axing of Hughes defied logic.

"His ejection is a blow against youth and imagination. It is also a move made in defiance of logic and consistency," he said.

"The same selectors who were so confident about him that they did not feel any need to include a spare batsman of any sort in their squad have in the space of a few admittedly sketchy innings lost faith in him so completely that he has been ditched."

Former Test batsman Mark Waugh claimed Hughes had paid the price for Johnson's form slump, while Test great Doug Walters said selectors had overreacted to Hughes's lack of runs.

"They've pushed the panic button a bit too early," Walters said. "I think he's been hard done by. There are other places they could have fitted Shane Watson into the team without dropping him (Hughes).

"I think Hughes has been sensational. It's only a little bit of a hiccup for him. They've only played two Tests in the series. I would like to have seen him continue in the side."

The Sydney Morning Herald said Hughes became the first casualty of Australia's teetering Ashes campaign only two days after team management promised to show faith in its struggling players and blamed bad luck for his most recent failures.

But while there was controversy surrounding Hughes's demotion, there was praise for the injury-prone Watson's response to his debut as a Test opener.

"If Shane Watson can just stay fit, he has the potential to be the all-rounder Australia has been looking for for too many fruitless decades," The Daily Telegraph's Robert Craddock said.

"The selectors took a huge gamble and it has paid a nice dividend already."

Leg-spinner Stuart MacGill said he had wanted Watson to come into the Australian team, but not at the expense of Hughes.

"I would like to have seen Watson slot in at number six, and Stuart Clark come in for (fellow bowler) Peter Siddle," he said.

For the latest Cricket news , Score, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and get the NDTV Cricket app for Android or iOS

Leave a comment