No treason in importing Aussies' hidden treasure

Middlesex CCC

Our signing of Phil Hughes, Australia's new batting sensation, has caused quite a stir in certain quarters of English cricket. There are some who suggest the appointment, which offers Hughes the chance to play seven weeks of cricket in England prior to this summer's much awaited Ashes series, is tantamount to treason.

Hughes shot to fame during the second Test against South Africa earlier this week. The belief is that Middlesex are reducing the chances of England regaining the Ashes by providing the 20-year-old with such an opportunity. Hughes is an exciting young talent but the xenophobic view of the critics is one that I, as Middlesex's managing director of cricket and the person who signed Hughes, totally disagree with. Hughes will undoubtedly benefit from his time at Lord's but international sport is about each country's best players competing hard against each other at an extremely high level, with the better side coming out on top.

That was the beauty of the 2005 Ashes. At Cardiff on 8 July there will be no Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden or Justin Langer under a "baggy green" cap and the Ashes, despite the absence of these players giving England a better chance of regaining the little urn, will be a lesser spectacle because of it. The fact that Michael Vaughan's side beat Australia when they were at virtually full strength makes the triumph far more memorable.

The signing of Hughes came through the link I have with Western Suburbs District Cricket Club in Sydney. Many years ago I spent two enjoyable winters playing for the club that did an enormous amount for my development as a cricketer, and it was long-standing friends there who made me aware of Hughes's potential. Initially the talk was of the opener using an Italian passport through his mother's ancestry to play as a Kolpak player, but this was not a route I really wanted to go down. The role of county cricket clubs is to develop England cricketers as well as win domestic tournaments.

It was the resignation of Kevin Pietersen as England captain that kicked Middlesex into action with Hughes. The appointment of Andrew Strauss as Pietersen's successor ensured we would see little of him in 2009. At the same time it became apparent that Owais Shah would either be playing for England or an Indian Premier League franchise in April and May too. With Middlesex's batting looking light and IPL dollars luring most of the game's best players in April and May the search began. Hughes' name jumped out. His first-class record was outstanding and respected people in Sydney spoke highly of his batting, temperament and personality. Although he had already become the youngest player to score a hundred in the Sheffield Shield final, few in England had heard of him.

At the time he was being given no more than an outside chance of featuring in the Ashes. Other counties had made offers, but the cocktail of Lord's, London and Middlesex CCC proved too good to refuse.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor