Too Good

When the mild 'controversy' blew up a while ago about counties signing Australians in advance of this summer's Ashes series, I didn't make any comment, mainly because I wasn't really sure what I thought. On the one hand it certainly wasn't going to work in England's favour, but on the other it's hard to castigate the counties too much as they have trophies to win and no absolute necessity to consider the Test team when they decide who to employ, even if many would argue that there's a strong moral obligation to do so.

As many people said, it highlighted the differences between English and Australian cricketing culture. The idea of states employing overseas players has never really caught on in Oz, and there wouldn't be a cat in hell's chance of anyone doing what Middlesex and Kent have done in advance of an Ashes series, even if there was a surfeit of players with the required ability. But England is different, and there are many people involved with counties (especially, in my experience, supporters) who appear to care very little about the England team so long as their own county is doing well.

What I'm trying to say here is that Middlesex's employment of Phil Hughes didn't tell us anything we didn't know before.

Of course, the main argument against it was that Hughes' exposure to early-season English conditions for the first time would help him to settle and improve his technique before the Ashes, but the evidence provided by his performances in South Africa and for Middlesex so far are that it doesn't matter. He's simply too good.

With a first-class average well above sixty, two centuries in his second Test and now a couple of tons in his first two games for his new county, it looks increasingly as though Australia have uncovered another 'once-in-a-generation player', and one who could haunt England for the next decade.

By the time he's finished with us the fact that he once played for Middlesex may be long-forgotten.

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