Durban, Mar.12 (ANI): Australian skipper Ricky Ponting has praised opener for maintaining his equanimity in the second Test against South Africa here, and added that during the match he was looking for signs of an inflated ego, which fortunately never surfaced.
"Look, his temperament - they [South Africa] came out with all guns blazing in the second innings in Johannesburg. I got to spend a bit of time with him then. I made sure I was around him and the bowler when a few of the verbals were taking place, just to see how he was handling it. Every time, he would just look at me with a smile on his face and tell me that he was loving it," said Ponting.
"That's what Test cricket is all about? It's about that one-on-one contest that you get into. That's what keeps me playing now, I love the contest of bat versus ball. Phil showed that he really enjoys that. If he continues to do that as much as he has over the last couple of weeks, I'm sure he'll have a great career," Ponting added.
Ponting also praised all-rounder Marcus North and pacer Ben Hilfenhaus, who also made their debuts in Johannesburg.
"This is as happy as I've been in my whole career as an Australian player," he said.
Hughes's Test average is 87.5. A magnificent career beckons. South African opener Neil McKenzie's Test average is 37.39. That's where it will stay.
McKenzie and misfiring speedster Morne Morkel were both dropped by South Africa after the 175-run defeat at Durban. Ashwell Prince will open the batting with new cap Imraan Khan. Wayne Parnell has taken Morkel's spot.
Smith admitted that he was taken aback by his side's inability to work out Hughes.
"The frustrating thing from our part is that we haven't been able to execute our game plans to him. We've allowed him to play the way that he wants to play ... but he's unorthodox and he's made it count in his first few Test matches," Smith said.
The third Test starts at Newlands on March 19. (ANI)