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Hughes ready for Lord’s challenge

Australia opener Phillip Hughes will play his first Lord's Test, fully prepared for anything the England bowlers may hurl at him.

Australia opener Phillip Hughes will play his first Lord's Test on Thursday fully prepared for anything the England bowlers may hurl at him.

Hughes was dismissed cheaply in both innings by Steve Harmison in a warm-up game before the drawn first Test in Cardiff. Harmison has been added to the England squad for the Lord's match.

Hughes will take the confidence of a winning duel with the most potent new ball attack in the world in South Africa this year when he tamed Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel.

"They were the second best team in the world coming in hard at me and their tails were up after winning the series in Australia," Hughes said. "They also came at me hard with the verbals but I said a bit back and enjoyed that contest.

"Morkel and Steyn are two that stand out and I loved that (verbal) contest but ultimately I play the ball not the bowler, whoever is in front of me I will be ready and raring to go."

It is quite a show of bravado from the 20-year-old who has played just four Tests but one that is justified after he beat George Headley's 79-year-old record by becoming the youngest man to score hundreds in both innings of a Test. Hughes made 115 and 160 at Durban.

SELF-BELIEFF

Succeeding after such a challenging introduction to Test cricket will give him the self-belief he will need if he comes up against the pace of Harmison again this week after succumbing to Flintoff in Cardiff.

It was not just the twin hundreds that impressed in South Africa but the way he rebounded from a four-ball duck in his first Test innings to hit 75 in the second innings.

"The one thing I will take out of that series is how I came back from my four-ball duck," Hughes said. "In the second innings, when I had Morkel and the rest of them in my face and saying a lot, to get 75 and with having someone like Ricky Ponting batting at the other end, gave me a lot to take away.

"My confidence was very high after that. I could have got another duck but I went out feeling confident and put that duck behind me. I just wanted to play my natural game again."

Hughes, the son of a banana farmer, said he realised he wanted to play professional cricket at age of 16. His cricket education developed further this year when he played six weeks with English county team Middlesex.

"I was here for six weeks and the longest break I got was two days, and they were travelling days," Hughes said of the county treadmill.

"Those six weeks were valuable, just to look at the conditions as I had never been to England before so to get to experience that was great. You hear about English conditions and the swinging ball but to face it first-hand was valuable. After those six weeks I felt very confident."

Irrespective of any possible battle with Harmison, the England bowlers would be foolish to think Hughes might shrink from a verbal battle.

"I might say a bit back but it depends how I feel," Hughes said. "I love getting into a contest and I do see that as a contest. It does fire me up so I don't mind if they give it to me."

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