Steve Waugh believes he has the potential to be the next Adam Gilchrist.india Updated: Oct 23, 2006 16:28 IST
Phil Jaques was holidaying on Queensland's Hamilton Island with his partner, the Australia football representative Danielle Small, when the Test call finally came to satisfy an early-career gamble.
A British passport holder, Jaques was the victim of a country tug-o-war in 2003 after scoring 1409 County Championship runs with Northamptonshire, but he refused to commit to England because "my heart says Australia".
Jaques, the left-handed opener, maintained such a consistent standard with New South Wales [1191 runs in 2004-05] and Yorkshire [1359 in 2005 and 1118 in 2004] that when Justin Langer was ruled out of the Boxing Day Test against South Africa Trevor Hohns said simply: "Phil virtually demanded selection."
His Test debut was a quiet one - he walked after squirting Shaun Pollock to short-leg for 2 and improved with 28 in the second innings - but at 26 he had been marked as a long-term national player. Another opportunity came in the second Test in Bangladesh and he produced a capable 66.
With an attacking mindset and home-made technique, he has shown the ability to score big runs on northern English greentops and hard-baked pitches in Australia and Pakistan, where he toured with Australia A in 2005.
Injuries have provided him with openings throughout his career - he made his first-class debut with 40 at No. 10 as a late addition against Queensland in 2000-01 - and a Simon Katich groin problem was responsible for his one-day international call-up in the middle of the 2005-06 VB Series. He made a stunning impact with 94, the highest score by an Australian first-gamer, but was harshly dropped when Katich recovered.
Jaques had to introduce himself to Ricky Ponting before his Test debut, but his reputation had already excited the Australian captain, and Steve Waugh believes he has the potential to be the next Adam Gilchrist. "Australia is lucky to have a player like him coming through," Waugh said. "He is the prototype for young players."