Being overseas from April 2007 I missed Phil Hughes’ half century on Shield debut in November 2007, I missed him becoming the youngest century maker in the Shield final in March 2008 at 19 years old, and I missed him being named Shield player of the season for 891 runs with 4 centuries in 7 matches in the summer of 2008/09 – I didn’t even know these facts until I read about them this week.
If I’d been in Australia, as an avid state cricket follower, I would have been all over this. I remember Michael Clarke piling up a big summer of Shield runs and Phil Jaques doing similar one year, before being called up to the national team.
I first remember hearing of Phil Hughes when he made his test debut, followed by twin hundreds in his second test, in South Africa. I was travelling in Africa the time and cricket news was difficult to come by – text messages to an Aussie mate in the UK was the best source and that was only on the odd occasion when phone reception was available.
As timing would have it I was in South Africa, Cape Town in fact, right when the third test of the series was being played there. Fresh from his twin centuries in the second test, in his third test Hughes scored twin 30’s. I went to the second day of the test and didn’t see Hughes bat, just Jacques Kallis and AB De Villiers destroying Bryce McGain in his only test.
After Africa, I headed back to London which was home base at the time. I might have missed Hughes’ run of Shield scores but what I didn’t miss was his amazing run of scores during his stint at English county team, Middlesex, prior to the 2009 Ashes.
I was job searching (unemployed) at the time so had some time on my hands and cricket was a great time filler. It felt like each day you would read about Hughes making a century. He made runs at Lord’s and at Southgate one of Middlesex’s county ‘outgrounds’, which was in the North London suburbs near where my housemate worked.
We said we’d get along to a game at Southgate or to the last day of the county match at The Oval, but didn’t make it to either (missing a great finish at The Oval). I did however make it along to Hughes’ last game for Middlesex at the home of cricket, Lords.
When I compiled this list I couldn’t believe Hughes’ stint at Middlesex was just four weeks long.
April 22 – May 18, 2009
County Championship – Division 2
Four day first class cricket
Middlesex v Glamorgan at Lords, April 22-25 (click on the link for the scorecard)
118 and 65 not out
Hughes dropped down to number 3 to accommodate England captain, Andrew Strauss opening the batting. Hughes was on 99 overnight on day 2.
Hughes bowled 2 overs late in the game.
195 and 57 (off 46 balls)
Middlesex had a victory target of 186 off 25 overs to win but finished on 9/184. We missed a great finish.
Hughes bowled 1 over in the first innings.
First class record at Middlesex:
3 matches, 5 innings, 574 runs at an average of 143.5 including 3 centuries and 2 half centuries
Hughes only bowled 4 overs in cricket – First class, List A or T20 – 3 of them were in this stint for Middlesex.
Friends Provident Trophy
Group B – Somerset, Kent, Middlesex, Scotland, Warwickshire
List A, 50 over cricket
74 (78 balls)
23 (36 balls)
Here are some great photo’s of Hughes at this match: Photos: cricketbydmitri
5 (10 balls) with Middlesex bowled out for 63
Then this play and travel schedule of 5 games in 8 days:
12 (19 balls)
A televised game on SkySports, which I watched on TV. Eoin Morgan was amazing with various reverse sweeps and an array of inventive strokes.
7 (14 balls)
I went to Surrey v Gloucestershire at the Oval on May 13. Mark Ramprakash made a century on a pitch just 40m or so from one of the boundaries – the square leg umpire was half way between the stumps and the rope!
11 (20 balls)
119 (112 balls)
57 (43 balls with 11 fours)
I went to this game – perhaps I should have gone the day before too. It was the only time I saw Hughes bat live. From memory the match had an unusual start time beginning at noon and finished early evening 7:30pm or so.
I remember Hughes and Owais Shah batting well and after Hughes went out, I nodded off sitting in a nearly empty stand. I also remember a flurry of boundaries bringing the game to an end in a successful run chase.
Jonathan Trott made 120 for the opposition, Warwickshire, but I don’t remember this. I do remember Trott making his test debut in the 5th Test at the Oval in August that year and making a century that won the Ashes.
Report from Cricinfo:
A fine 69 from Neil Dexter, along with blistering contributions from Phillip Hughes and Owais Shah, helped Middlesex chase down 277 to beat Warwickshire at Lord’s and keep their quarter-final hopes alive. Warwickshire’s challenging target was set up by Jonathan Trott’s superb 120 and a typically bullish innings of 68, from 44 balls, by Neil Carter. Middlesex lost Billy Godleman early before Hughes (57 from 43) and Shah (63 from 58) steadied their chase, but they then lost Dawid Malan and Eoin Morgan within one ball of each other. And when Trott pulled off a stunning one-handed effort to send Gareth Berg packing, Middlesex’s quarter-final hopes appeared to be over. But Ben Scott suddenly rediscovered his touch with 28 from 18 balls, and along with Dexter helped Middlesex over the line with three balls to spare. This was Hughes’s last match this season for Middlesex, a remarkable period in which he scored 882 runs, and he could yet be back at Lord’s for next season.
Hughes (who was 20 years old in 2009) opened the batting with Billy Godleman (himself also just 20 years old) in all but one game for Middlesex. The name stuck in my memory as I had seen Godleman make a half century in my only previous visit to Lords in 2007.
The similarities between the two 20 year old openers was clear: Godleman was also a prodigious talent at a young age being the second youngest débutante for Middlesex and gaining a county contract at just 17 years old.
Hughes didn’t return to Middlesex the following season, but he did play for Hampshire for a short stint late in 2010 and for Worcestershire in 2012.
List A, 50 over cricket for Middlesex:
8 matches, 8 innings, 308 runs at an average of 38.5 with a strike rate of 92.77, 1 century and 2 half centuries
Overall record for Middlesex:
20 days of cricket in 27 days.
882 runs in 11 matches at an average of 73.5, 4 centuries and 4 half centuries.
An amazing month with so much achieved in such a short amount of time, just like his life.
That’s my memory of Phil Hughes.
In the 2009 Ashes, I went to a day of the test at Lords, Hughes’ fifth test, but he didn’t bat that day and Australia performed dismally. I also went to the next test at Edgbaston, Birmingham but Hughes had been dropped. As in South Africa my timing wasn’t to be.
During his stint at Middlesex, Hughes’ record at Lords was outstanding: 4 matches, 5 innings, 433 runs at an average of 108.25, 2 centuries, 3 half centuries. However the venue was not a memorable one for him in test cricket.
Hughes scored 4 & 17 in 2009 and 1 & 1 in 2013 at Lords and was dropped from the Australian team after both matches.
The 2013 Lords test was his last test match.