Hughes knocks on the Test door

National selectors are forcing Phillip Hughes to be patient, and the Test discard showed his native NSW on Monday he is more than adept at playing the waiting game by posting another Shield century.

Bowlers around the country must be wishing John Inverarity hands Hughes a Test recall sooner rather than later because they must be sick of bowling to him.

This week it is the Blues' turn to chase leather. For more than five-and-a-half hours, Hughes absorbed the best his former teammates could serve up to him and returned fire with interest, compiling an innings of 118 in a manner seldom seen of the 25-year-old in the past.

His 24th first-class century enabled South Australia, in reply to NSW's 373, to reach 5-288 at stumps on day two, leaving the game evenly poised at the halfway mark.

In years gone by, the mention of another Shield ton was enough to spark cries for a promotion to the Test side, though with the national side in such a rich vein of form such cries are not as loud this time.

That is not to say Hughes would not be worthy of a recall as his numbers this season indicate he is. With 547 runs at 68, including a double ton and two other centuries, Hughes is second on the Shield runs list, behind former Test teammate Marcus North.

"If something comes up around the selection table and I'm one of the few they're talking about that's something I'd really love," Hughes said.

"I want to continue to make big statements with big runs."

When the fourth coming does arrive for Hughes as a Test player, there will be little argument he will return a better version than what we have seen in the past, having been forced to knock the door down by weight of runs rather than being merely the best of the rest.

The dazzling strokeplay is still there. He remains an excellent cutter and driver of the ball - shots he again used with great effect at the SCG - but there now appears more substance to go with his unorthodox style.

Take the barrage of short balls he received from Sean Abbott, who was unlucky not to claim a wicket.

Hughes chose the Steve Waugh approach to the hook shot - a stroke he has worked industriously on in the past 18 months - shelving it for fear of picking out the two men placed behind square for the exact play.

Instead he ducked and dodged. As a result it took him 51 balls to move from 60 to 62, but preserved his wicket.

"To only get twenty-odd in that middle session I've probably never done that before," Hughes said.

Otherwise, Hughes was largely in control to the point where his demise came as a shock, caught at first slip after failing to get his gloves out of the way of a ball from Trent Copeland which rose sharply off a good length

The indefatiguable Copeland, who toiled wholeheartedly for 3-83, had earlier claimed the key wickets of Redbacks young gun Travis Head and Tom Cooper to have the visitors under pressure.

It took a 144-run stand for the fourth wicket between Callum Ferguson and Hughes to lift the Redbacks out of trouble.

Ferguson threw away what would have been a well deserved century when, on 80, he swiped birthday boy Stephen O'Keefe to deep mid-wicket.

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