SYDNEY, July 30 – Opening batsman Phil Hughes has been dropped from the Australian side and replaced by Shane Watson for the third Ashes Test against England, a report said on Thursday.
The Australian newspaper, citing sources close to the team, said the young batsman lost his position for Thursday’s Edgbaston Test in Birmingham after just five Tests and been replaced by the all-rounder Watson.
Hughes’s demotion, the newspaper said, comes after his first three innings of the Test series with scores of 36, 4 and 17 when his batting technique was put to the test by England’s pace attack, led by Andrew Flintoff.
The newspaper said it was an incredible fall from grace for the 20-year-old, who arrived in England with an average of 69 after scoring two centuries in his second Test against South Africa earlier this year.
It said selectors were anxious that Englands bowlers had found a weakness in the diminutive rookie’s ability to deal with the short-pitched "body-line" delivery after he fell to the same ball in tour and Test matches.
Watson’s return was seen as an attempt to bring in another bowler to help "putty up the gaps in the attack" caused by Mitchell Johnson’s terrible form, the newspaper said.
Watson made 84 and 50 in last weekend’s tour match against Northampton, while Hughes failed in the first innings and scored 68 in the second.
England lead the best-of-five Test series 1-0 after beating the Australians by 115 runs in the second Test at Lord’s last week.