Darren Lehmann working wonders for spin-phobic Phillip Hughes
Phillip Hughes has struggled against spin in the past. However he had been working hard behind the scenes with coach Darren Lehmann on a method to combat Graeme Swann and Co. in the upcoming Ashes series in England.
Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja and vice-captain Brad Haddin hit fifties to guide Australia to a 6-wicket win over Somerset on the final day of a four-day tour match at Taunton on Saturday.
The left-handed Hughes, fighting for a place in playing XI when Australia take on favourites England in the first of 5-match Ashes series on July 10 at Nottingham, hit two fifties (76 not out and 50) in the first tour game and looked comfortable playing in English conditions.
Hughes, who looked tentative against spin on the tour to India, played the lone Somerset spinner George Dockrell with ease and hit him for a couple of sixes at the start of his second innings.
Hughes is taking tips from former batsman and new Australia coach Darren Lehmann, who is regarded as one of the most inventive batsmen of spin bowling.
"I'll be talking to him (Darren Lehmann) day in and day out because he really dominated spin bowling through his whole career so it's something we can all keep working on," Hughes said after the match in Taunton.
"The pitches during the Champions Trophy were quite dry and reversed and did turn a little bit, too. It turned here so it's about working behind the scenes in the nets and facing the spinning ball. There's things we've all been working on and I know there's a couple for myself but I won't go into them," the left-hander added.
The 24-year-old has enhanced his chances of making cut for the final XI against England in the first Ashes Test but the home side is likely to prepare wickets to suit Graeme Swann, who loves bowling to left-handers. Hughes also praised left-arm spinner Dockrell, who took three wickets in the second innings.
"It's nice to get off strike, doesn't matter who you're facing especially at the start of your innings," Hughes said. "But they kept changing the field and you want to try and manipulate that as much as possible. I thought he [Dockrell] bowled quite well and there was a fair bit of rough outside off stump so it was nice to get to the other end today against a spinner and on a dry pitch," he said.
It is still not decided where he will bat during the Ashes if selected but the opener said he is ready to fight for his place in the team.
"I really enjoyed batting at No.5 and then obviously 3, but it's only a number next to your name and I've always said that I don't really mind where I bat," Hughes said. "It's just about opportunity really and about performing. I think it's a good thing giving everyone a go in different positions. I've been lucky enough to go from opener all the way down to 5 now so it's a good thing. It's only something you can continue to work on," he said.
Hughes has played 24 Tests and has scored 1452 run with the help of three centuries and six fifties. His last Test fifty came against India in Mohali earlier this year.