Big week ahead for Phillip

IN the cut-throat world that is international cricket, the chances of Macksville's superstar batsman Phillip Hughes receiving a call-up to the national squad for the South African or Ashes tours could be decided over the next week.

Tomorrow night Hughes will be opening the batting for the NSW SpeedBlitz Blues in the KFC Twenty20 Big Bash final against Victoria.

On Thursday the 20-year-old will be shaking hands with Kevin Rudd before taking on New Zealand as part of the Prime Minister's XI when he will play alongside fellow baggy green-contender Michael Klinger.

Hopefully the left-hander will have some runs under his belt by this stage but he has an opportunity to really press his claims for a Test spot when he tackles Tasmania in a Sheffield Shield clash at Newcastle that starts on Friday.

Many are calling for Hughes to be called up to fill the hole left by the retirement of Matthew Hayden and with 658 runs at 59.82 this season including three centuries, there's plenty of good numbers to support such a contention.

Another challenger for the spot at the top of the Australian batting order is Phil Jacques who has recovered from a back injury and will be striding to the crease alongside Hughes at Newcastle.

Hughes, Klinger, Jacques or Victorian Chris Rogers are all considered likely choices when the team for three Test match series against South Africa is chosen.

Some believe that Jacques is the obvious choice as he is the incumbent who made a Test century less than 12 months ago against the West Indies before injuring himself.

Others (and nearly everyone on the Coffs Coast) say that the time to throw in a young gun is now.

A bold selection worked with Stephen Waugh, Damien Martyn and Ricky Ponting and the thinking is that Hughes is good enough to follow in those footsteps.

The next week could help Hughes become such an inspired selection and the whole town of Macksville is right behind their greatest cricketing talent.

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