Phil Hughes won’t walk straight back into Australia’s one-day team despite the absence of openers David Warner and Shane Watson.
There are no guarantees for Phil Hughes in his latest international comeback despite Australia being without their two leading one-day openers for the tri-series in Zimbabwe.
Shane Watson’s ankle injury and David Warner’s paternity leave have given Hughes, with two double-centuries for Australia A in his kit bag, a late recall to the 14-man ODI squad which flies out on Wednesday.
But coach Darren Lehmann has indicated the mercurial left-hander may need to remain patient as he awaits another shot at nailing down a top-order spot.
Hughes has been left out of the Australian side to play a practice match against Queensland at Allan Border Field on Tuesday, instead lining up for the Bulls with Warner and spinner Nathan Lyon.
Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin and Michael Clarke appear the likely top-three combination, although Lehmann denied 25-year-old Hughes was there to warm a bench against Zimbabwe and South Africa.
“He’s in the squad and if he gets a chance I’m sure he’ll take it,” Lehmann said.
“We have to find the right balance, whoever that is, whether that’s Phillip in or not in for the first game, we have to sum up the conditions.
“We have to make sure we get away to a good start, so we’ll be at full-strength early and then see what happens with the tournament from there, how the wickets play and whether it spins or doesn’t.”
Hughes, who lost his place in both the Test and ODI teams last year, has responded to the selection panel’s request for more runs with unbeaten knocks of 202 (one-day) and 243 (four-day) against South Africa A.
Off-spinner Lyon is another player the selectors are keen to experiment with, giving him his recall as they aim to be more attacking as a bowling unit.
Lehmann admitted Clint McKay, rated fifth on the ICC bowling rankings, paid the price for his inability to make early breakthroughs last season, opening the door for Ben Cutting and Kane Richardson.
“In the last 12 months he hasn’t delivered with the new ball for us and his speed isn’t up to scratch for us and that’s the message we’ve sent to him,” he said.
While Lehmann has a “little eye” on the 2015 World Cup, the coach insisted results were the priority after a four-month break.
“The main thing for us is we have to make sure we are playing good cricket right now,” he said. “We have to win every series we play.”
Australia start their tri-series campaign against Zimbabwe on Monday in Harare.