Kurtis Patterson, the young New South Wales batsman, has knocked back an offer to take Phillip Hughes’ place on the roster of the Sydney Thunder in the Twenty20 Big Bash League, in order to build conventionally on his history-making state debut.
A freewheeling 157 for the Blues against Western Australia in November made the 18-year-old Patterson the youngest debut centurion in Australian first-class cricket, and among the most talked about young batsmen in the world.
His innings drew superlatives not only for its dimensions but also its style, characterised by fearless shotmaking and poise beyond Patterson’s years as he batted in the company of the vastly experienced Simon Katich.
It caught the attention of many, and when Hughes elected to withdraw from the Thunder last week in his quest to rejuvenate his failing international career, the BBL team’s general manager John Dyson made an offer for Patterson to take the vacancy.
However Patterson rebuffed the approach after some thought, preferring to concentrate on the forthcoming National Under-19s carnival, to be played in Adelaide in January, and a second XI appearance for New South Wales.
Amid the hype and flash of the BBL, Hughes and Patterson have both elected, for differing reasons, to stay out of the spotlight.
Hughes is playing for a CA Chairman’s XI against the Indians in Canberra over the next three days and has the chance to begin his journey back from the confusion that engulfed his batting in Brisbane and Hobart against New Zealand.
“I talked with Pup [Michael Clarke] and Mickey Arthur about it after the Hobart Test and they both supported my thinking,” Hughes said of his decision to withdraw fro the Thunder. I then approached John Dyson [Sydney Thunder] and Pat Howard [Cricket Australia] to ensure that they would be comfortable for me to step away from my contract.
“Selfishly, it’s the right decision for me but I’m obviously concerned that I have made this decision on the eve of the Thunder’s first game. Everyone has been extremely understanding and I wish the boys all the best for a successful Big Bash season.”
It is expected that after this match Hughes will be given time to return to his family farm in Macksville for a chance to clear his head, and will then resume training in the New South Wales stable under the guidance of his personal coach Neil D’Costa.
A similar sequence of rest followed by training a year ago helped Hughes emerge from the difficulties he experienced during the concluding three Tests of last summer’s Ashes series, resulting in burst of run-scoring that allowed him to retain his opening spot for the tour of Sri Lanka.