MEMORY LANE – A MEMORABLE DEBUT FOR PHILLIP HUGHES AGAINST GLAMORGAN
This Friday Middlesex go head to head with Glamorgan in the County Championship for the first time since 2011 – the season the club achieved promotion from the second division with victory at Grace Road against Leicestershire in the final game of the season!
With the Welshmen making a long-awaited return to the Home of Cricket this week, our ‘Memory Lane’ feature looks back to a memorable clash between the two sides in 2009 – not necessarily for the match itself or even for the result, but more for the efforts of a certain young debutant, making his first appearance for Middlesex that day!
It was the opening day of the 2009 County Championship season and having won the toss, Middlesex Captain Shaun Udal backed his seam attack and inserted Glamorgan, on what he hoped would be an early season wicket that would give plenty of assistance to his bowlers.
505 runs later, with centuries for both Mark Cosgrove and Mark Wallace, the Glamorgan first innings came to an end midway through the afternoon on the second day’s play.
Opening the batting for Middlesex alongside Billy Godleman was a young Australian, who in a matter of just six weeks he spent at the club, made an unprecedented impression on each and every person involved in Middlesex Cricket.
His name was Phillip Joel Hughes, a twenty-year-old, born and raised in Macksville, New South Wales. He had only recently arrived in the UK to join up with Middlesex as cover for the club’s overseas spinner Murali Kartik, who was missing the early part of the domestic season, away with his Indian Premier League franchise.
Hughes had just returned from South Africa, where he’d made his Test debut for the Australians in Johannesburg just a month earlier, scoring 75 in the second innings. He followed this up with knocks of 115 and 160 in the very next Test in Durban and was arriving in England ahead of the bulk of the Australian touring party who would later that summer be going up against England for the Ashes.
A languid left hander, unconventional, unorthodox and unique in his own style, Hughes arrived at the crease with fellow opener Billy Godleman to begin his brief stint with Middlesex.
Given the reputation that the relatively unknown Hughes had already built up, there was plenty of curiosity around Lord’s as the Australian made his entrance at the home of English cricket.
What Hughes brought to Lord’s that day was an unbelievable display of brutal batting against the Glamorgan attack, fiercely punishing anything that offered him even a merest fraction of width outside the off-stump, cutting ferociously and scoring freely to the point and cover boundaries.
In an innings which lasted 224 minutes and included 169 balls, Hughes hit eighteen sweetly timed boundaries on his way to a Middlesex first-class debut innings of 118, before finally falling to the pace of Garnett Kruger. In scoring a century, Hughes had become only the sixth player in the club’s history to hit a hundred when making a first-class debut for the club and had scored the third highest ever score on debut for Middlesex.
In reply to Glamorgan’s huge 505 first innings total, Hughes’ 118 was the top score for the hosts, who also had Neil Dexter and Dawid Malan half-centuries to thank for helping them reach a first innings total of 414 and remain in the game.
A second innings declaration from Glamorgan on 278, eight down on day four, saw Middlesex batted out of the game with time running out, although the loss of three quick Middlesex wickets got the visitors interested. Hughes had other ideas however, and rather than going into defensive mode, took the attack to Glamorgan, batting fluently and freely, seemingly under no pressure whatsoever, to finish unbeaten on 65, scored off just 72 balls.
In his post-match media interview, at the end of the drawn encounter, Mark Wallace, Glamorgan’s wicket-keeper, who had watched Hughes face all of his 241 balls in the game from behind the stumps commented to the Guardian: “It felt at times as though he could even cut our yorkers for four, as though he was playing a completely different game", whilst Matthew Maynard, Glamorgan's Head Coach added: "He stands outside leg stump and doesn't move across his wicket. He shows you his stumps and almost invites you to hit them, but if you're just wide of the stumps he'll cut you past point. It makes it very hard to get him out lbw."
Hughes’s debut performance was merely a glimpse of how impactful his stay at Lord’s would be, with the youngster hitting three centuries and two half centuries in the five first-class innings he played for the club - finishing with an astonishing first-class average of 143.50.
The impact that Phillip Hughes had on Middlesex will never be forgotten.
He was truly one of a kind.