The Ashes: No.3 conundrum for Australia - Phil Hughes or Usman Khawaja

Updated: 16 August 2013 11:23 IST

Usman Khawaja averages a lowly 24.38 from 14 innings at the position and appears to be in the firing line for the fifth Ashes Test. Phil Hughes, who played in the first two Ashes Tests, has since had the most decent record at no.3, scoring 372 runs at an average of 37.20 in 10 innings.

The Ashes: No.3 conundrum for Australia - Phil Hughes or Usman Khawaja
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Australian team has been on the downward spiral ever since their experienced stars - Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey - have retired. Infact, Ponting had made the one-down position his own, hitting 31 Test centuries batting there.

The position seems to have lost its charm now with an Aussie batsman not making a century at no.3 in 48 innings - the last being Shaun Marsh's 141 against Sri Lanka at Pallekele, 2011. Australia have tried nine different batsmen in the last three years to fill the gap but are yet to find their man.

Phil Hughes, who played in the first two Ashes Tests, has since had the most decent record at no.3, scoring 372 runs at an average of 37.20 in 10 innings.

Usman Khawaja averages a lowly 24.38 from 14 innings at the position and appears to be in the firing line for the fifth Ashes Test at the Oval unless he can produce a big score in Australia's two-day match against the England Lions starting on Friday in Northampton. His scores of - 14, 54, 1, 24, 0 and 21 - in the current series, do not augur well for him.

Marsh is also set to come back into contention for the home Ashes series after being recalled to international cricket with one-day selection for England ODIs.

Hughes though will also have his chance to impress in the tour match and although he'd be happy to be picked anywhere in the Test batting line-up, he'd relish a return to No.3.

"A lot of people have had a go at it over the last couple of years," Hughes said on Thursday.

"I'd love another go. Anyone would. I suppose the Australian summer I came in and slotted into No.3 in the Test match form and the one-day form and I enjoyed that.

"But as I said it doesn't matter. Usman is there now and I'm sure he'll do a good job there. And that's just how it is.

"Hopefully one day, sooner rather than later I'll get another crack."

Hughes was dropped for the third Test at Old Trafford, after one and one in his two innings at Lord's.

It was a rapid fall for the left-hander, who believes he played one of his best ever Test knocks in the first Test at Trent Bridge when he scored a mature 81 not-out in a big 168-run stand with No.11 batsman Ashton Agar.

Despite topping the first-class tour averages with 62.28, and with five half-centuries till now, Hughes was the first to get the axe after the 128-all out batting collapse at Lord's.

"It's never easy to be dropped. But I feel that one (after New Zealand) was tougher than this one.

"It's not something I'm overly concerned about. I feel like I'm in a really good place.

"I feel like my confidence isn't shot at all," said Hughes.

Hughes said he received good feedback on his latest dropping from selector Rod Marsh and has also been seeking advice from mentor and former Australian batting coach Justin Langer.

Topics : Cricket David Warner Shane Watson Philip Hughes Mickey Arthur Michael Clarke Glenn McGrath Kevin Pietersen Joe Root Usman Khawaja The Ashes, 2013 Australia
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