Phil Hughes in-Sinc with Mathew’s rhyme

Australian cricket has their own version of the Hokey Pokey. Sing it with me.

You put your Phil Hughes in, you take your Phil Hughes out. And repeat.

Let’s face it. It’s a ditty we all know too well. We don’t need the lyric sheet. It’s had more plays than The Eagles on tradie’s radio. It’s a torturous hook of Gaga proportions that we’ve had on loop in our heads for years.

At this point in time, the oscillating Hughes sits on the outside of the circle of Australia’s first XI, patiently waiting and praying for the first line of the song to come around again.

Hughes takes a relieving wizz after a gruelling 15-ball stay at the crease.

Hughes takes a relieving wizz after a gruelling 15-ball stay at the crease.

But is this position on the exterior now what it’s all about?

After the familiar story of a gallant fight back in to the team, clawing past the haters and wading through the piles of free advice, once again he’s touched the summit and immediately headed back south after failing to secure a foothold.

Naysaying of his ability to handle the wiles of international standard bowling have now reached a deafening and unpleasant crescendo.

This is the fifth occasion that Hughes has been given the ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ break-up from those conducting the tunes on the national selection panel. Two of these separations have been because he was seat-filling and the incumbent arse had returned, which happens, yet the other three times have been because he’s been embarrassingly exposed under international cricket’s merciless microscope.

The post-it note with his phone number on it must be perilously close to going ‘accidentally’ through the selection panel’s washing machine. Was his two innings at Lord’s the fade out of the Hokey Pokey for good?

For a couple of reasons, the answer most probably is no.

Hughes’ contact details should remain free from the wash cycle because of the lack of other attractive business cards in Australian cricket, and because lessons are slowly sinking in from a lint filter that is already chockers with failures anyway.

While ever Hughes continues to boot-fill on the short square boundaries of Adelaide Oval, and while ever the pack of state batsmen he leads remains lean and unthreatening, his experience and fighting qualities will keep him at the forefront of selector’s minds.

In saying this, repeated letdowns in the Baggy Green will come at a price.

Remaining defiantly in the region for choice know as ‘thereabouts’ is one thing, it’s the size of the pass mark for a return for the diminutive Macksvillian that has stretched further with each breach of trust at international level.

Longer bursts of run-making will be required to convince a bunch of selectors who cower whenever his name shows next to a big score on the news. Once/twice/three times/etc bitten, very shy.

Sinclair getting a frame sized for some rare memorabilia.

Sinclair getting a frame sized for some rare memorabilia.

Hughes’ journey is taking on parallels to another domestic god-to-international peasant from across the ditch.

Mathew Sinclair amassed 13717 first class runs at an average of 48.64 over an 18 year career of domestic bullying in New Zealand. Obviously, his talents were spotted early and he was shotgunned in to the national team where he scored two double-tons in his first twelve Tests, with one of those on debut.

Naturally, expectations were immediately inflated from the get-go. Unfortunately, his failure to live up to these became his legacy. Sound familiar?

Sinclair became legendary at knocking on the selectors door like a dosed-up drummer playing an extended solo, yet was never able to cement his chance when presented, give or take a pinch or two of politics. He was ingloriously discarded from the Black Caps four times in his career yet remained one of the Dons inside the Shaky Isles until he retired this year.

And in a cruel twist, the poor fella has had to put his hand out for the dole, a predicament where doorknocking is nowhere near as glamorous.

Is Hughes on track to become Australia’s version of Sinclair?

With a multitude of T20 competitions smiling with their golden grills across the globe, it’s hard to see the plucky leftie suffering the same fate of needing the fortnightly handout of Newstart Allowance. Paying the rent and getting a feed shouldn’t be an issue.

But in cricketing terms, will his international tale mirror Sinclair’s, a frightening figure to the bowlers within his own borders but a quivering mouse on the bigger stage?



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