Melbourne, Jan 11 (ANI): Australian coach Tim Nielsen has said if opener Simon Katich proved he had overcome an arm injury that kept him out of the Sydney Test, it would be Phil Hughes and not Marcus North who will be out of the side for the third game against Pakistan.
Hughes, 21, was called in to play in Sydney as cover for Katich and scored 0 and 37, but North is having an increasingly modest summer, raising questions about his long-term future.
His average has fallen from 51 at the start of the summer to 38.
"In this Test match, he's safe," FOX Sports quoted Nielsen, as saying.
"We'll have Phil there as a standby player for Simon as in Sydney. We must keep in perspective it was only a couple of months ago that Marcus had three centuries in five (six) Tests. He's having a bit of a dip in form at the moment.
"It happens in our game, different players go through rough trots. He's a good player and I'm sure he will perform this week," he added.
Nielsen claimed North's major problem was getting a solid start, an observation backed up by the fact that during his 12-Test career, 13 of his 20 scores have been 16 or fewer and nine are single figures.
"Probably the major thing is he hasn't been able to get through that difficult period from nought to 20. He was a bit unlucky in that he only got one bat in Melbourne and chopped one on," Nielsen said.
"When he was in the box seat to get a big score in Perth, he hit a full toss back to the spinner. It's been one of those summers for him, perhaps a little bit like what Michael Hussey went through, and he's come out the other end playing so well.
"If he keeps preparing well and keeps playing his way, he'll have success in the short- and long-term. Talking to him, he feels in a good place about his batting," Nielsen said. (ANI)