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Australia Batsman Hughes Skips Big Bash to Focus on Longer Forms

Australia opening batsman Phillip Hughes will skip the revamped Twenty20 Big Bash League to focus on developing his long-form skills, Cricket Australia said.

Hughes, who averaged 19 in his past eight Test innings, was released from his contract with the Sydney Thunder after taking “a decision in the interests of his personal development,” Pat Howard, Cricket Australia’s general manager of team performance, said in an e-mailed statement.

“We gave him a little bit of time to think about it and digest it,” Howard told reporters in Brisbane. “You’ve got to make sure you’ve got a big vision of how that happens and where he gets his cricket in that period.”

Australia captain Michael Clarke said two days ago that Hughes, 23, may need to return to the Sheffield Shield domestic competition to work on his batting. Hughes was caught in the slips by Martin Guptill off Chris Martin’s bowling in all four innings of this month’s 1-1 Test series draw with New Zealand.

He’ll get one more chance to fight for his Test spot when he plays for the Chairman’s XI in a three-day game against India from Dec. 19. Australia starts a four-Test series against India a week later and the squad will be named before Dec. 22.

“Following my performances over the last few months, I have decided that, right now, I need to be completely focused on my first-class cricket career,” Hughes, who averages 34.58 in 17 Tests for Australia, said in a statement. “I want to do everything I can to ensure that my game continues to develop.”

Cricket Australia said today it will run a batting camp from Dec. 20-22 in Melbourne to prepare for the first Test. Shane Watson and back-up allrounder Dan Christian will join Clarke, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey and Brad Haddin, while Shaun Marsh will attend if he recovers from a back injury.

Howard said Australia head coach Mickey Arthur, who was appointed Nov. 22, had instigated the camp “to put the microscope on everything and fine tune.”

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