Clarke backs opener Hughes to perform

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Johannesburg, Feb.28 (ANI): Australian vice-captain Michael Clarke has rallied behind young opening batsman Phil Hughes, who made a fourth-ball duck on debut against South Africa.

Hughes, aged just 20, tried to cut a short ball from Dale Steyn in the first over of the match and was caught behind.

"He was disappointed," said Clarke, who made 151 in his Test debut against India in Bangalore in 2004, aged 23.

"He wanted to do really well but he's a pretty tough cookie and it was a pretty tough wicket to make his debut on.

"Nine times out of 10 he hits that ball for four as well. He's a pretty confident, positive sort of guy and I know he's looking forward to a second chance in the second innings," the Courier Mail quoted Clarke, as saying.

The tiny left-hander has a man-sized appetite for runs and Clarke and selector David Boon are both more than happy to predict Hughes can show a massive improvement in Australia's second innings.

"He seems pretty calm about it all," Boon said before the match.

"He's quiet. You can see that he always appears to be thinking about the game, thinking about his role and what he's going to do. From what I've seen of him playing in first-class cricket, his ability to continually forge runs is outstanding for a young guy and what I see is something very strong in character," said Boon.

Steyn says nerves may have played a part in the downfall of Hughes.

"If I could have bowled that ball a little bit closer to his head I would have enjoyed that," Steyn said.

"It was a bit wide wasn't it? But look it got a wicket.

"Who knows, maybe he was a little bit nervous and wanted to get off the mark. It was just unfortunate that he found the edge -- fortunate for me, unfortunate for him." (ANI)

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