DateLine: 14th February 2009
Phillip Hughes, Australia's gifted young opening batsman, signed up with English county Middlesex on Friday. Hughes will join Middlesex on a short-term contract for the first six weeks of the 2009 season as cover for the county's overseas signing Murali Kartik.
The 20-year-old has been called into Australia's squad for their forthcoming Test series in South Africa after a prolific start to his career saw him labelled as the country's most exciting talent since current captain Ricky Ponting. Hughes made his first class debut at the age of just 18 and finished his first season with New South Wales with a first class batting average of 62.11. He was instrumental in his side's victory in the Sheffield Shield final, with his 116 making him the youngest ever player to score a hundred in the final. Hughes is currently the second highest run scorer in the Sheffield Shield this season, scoring 963 runs at an average of 68.78; this performance has won him the Bradman young player of the year award of 2009.
Middlesex Managing Director of Cricket Angus Fraser hailed the signing as a significant coup.
"To have signed Phillip for the early part of the season is a major coup for Middlesex, as there is no secret of the fact that many respected voices in the game are billing Phillip as one of the most talented young batsmen in world cricket today," Fraser said.
"Phillip arrives with us in early April and will be available for our season's opening Championship fixture against Glamorgan at Lord's.
"The addition of such a top quality batsman to our top order will prove invaluable in the early part of the season."