Three tons in four for thrilling Hughes
Phillip Hughes completed his third century in four LV= County Championship innings - almost single-handedly leading Middlesex’s response to a Mark Ramprakash-inspired Surrey at the Brit Oval.
By the close of the second day in the clash between Division Two’s two London sides, the Australia Test opener was 134 not out from 166 balls, out of a total of 200 for two, taking his first-class run tally so far this season to 456.
England may have been routing West Indies on the other side of the Thames, but 20-year-old left-hander Hughes is preparing for the Ashes later this summer in sensational fashion.
The man who made two hundreds in just his second Test appearance, against South Africa at Durban earlier this year, has quickly announced himself to English audiences by underlining his rare talent.
He throws himself at the ball, especially when unleashing his favourite cut shots or, as he did twice in quick succession to Andre Nel after reaching three figures, pulling with a ferocity that is astonishing for someone so slightly built.
Nel, the former South Africa fast bowler, was so enraged that he then sent down a high full toss which Hughes did well to fend away.
The young Australian immediately protested to Nel, who to his credit apologised and, at the end of the over, went up to Hughes to issue another apology and put an arm around his shoulders.
While Hughes was launching himself at the Surrey attack, in response to a home total of 388 and Ramprakash’s sublime 133, the rest of the Middlesex top order found it far tougher going.
Billy Godleman may have helped Hughes to put on 165 for the first wicket, but he had faced 126 balls for his 37 – the same number as Hughes required for his hundred – before falling to Nel, caught low down at second slip.
Neil Dexter was then bowled for eight by Murtaza Hussain, the off spinner who bowled as well as anyone at Hughes, but the Surrey bowlers were made to look very ordinary by the amazing hand-eye co-ordination of the New South Wales prodigy, who has so far hit 21 fours.
Earlier, Ramprakash added just seven runs to his overnight 126 but Chris Schofield, with a combative 47, and Nel with an often agricultural 32, took Surrey almost to maximum batting points.
Their four points were their first for batting this season.