Melbourne:Former Australia cricketer Mark Waugh feels young opener Phillip Hughes have the potential to fill in the shoes of Matthew Hayden, who retired from the international cricket recently.
As another left-handed opening bat Phil Jaques races the clock to be fit in time for next month's tour of South Africa, Waugh said a fit and firing 20-year-old Hughes was worth the gamble.
"You could go either way but if you wanted a younger guy you'd go with Hughes," Waugh, who played 128 Test matches, was quoted as saying by 'The Daily Telegraph' on Thursday.
The former Australia cricketer thinks the New South Wales batsman has the ability to perform in tough conditions, which has made him a better option over 29-year-old Jaques, who have played 11 Tests.
"Jaques hasn't played a lot of Tests and hasn't done anything wrong, but I would be inclined to take the gamble and pick Hughes.
"He looks a young tough player who puts a high price on his wicket and can score runs in tough conditions like he did in Tasmania earlier this season, when he scored more than half of NSW's runs in two innings," Waugh said.
Jaques has been sidelined with a back injury since the start of the summer and will play club cricket this weekend before a return for NSW on January 30 in Newcastle.
Waugh said the time spent away from the game was not ideal ahead of a tough tour against a rejuvenated South Africa.
"It's not easy when you've been out of the game so long, it takes a bit of time to get your match fitness back and to find form. It's not long before South Africa and it's a gamble in itself (to go with Jaques), so I'd pick Hughes for both South Africa and the Ashes" he said.
Jaques already seems to be the number one candidate and has an impressive average of 47 from 11 Tests, which includes the last-start century he hit against the West Indies in Barbados.
Hughes, however, has again blasted his way into the contention on the domestic scene with 658 runs at an average of 59.81.