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Page last updated at 15:08 GMT, Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Hughes primed for Australia debut

First Test, Johannesburg: South Africa v Australia
Dates: 26 Feb-2 March Start time: 0830 GMT Venue: Wanderers Stadium
Coverage: Live on Sky Sports. Scorecard and reports on BBC Sport website

Phil Hughes celebrates a half century
Phil Hughes made 24 and 53 against the President's XI

Phillip Hughes is set to make his debut as Australia look to avenge their 2-1 home series defeat by South Africa in Thursday's first Test in Johannesburg.

Hughes, 20, will succeed the retired Matthew Hayden at the Wanderers.

Seamer Ben Hilfenhaus and all-rounders Marcus North and Andrew McDonald are chasing a first cap but spinners Bryce McGain and Nathan Hauritz miss out.

South Africa, by contrast, have no selection issues with Graeme Smith back in the side as captain after injury.

A home victory would lift South Africa above Australia at the top of the world Test championship, a position Ricky Ponting's side just managed to hang on to with a consolation victory in the final Test in Sydney in January.

"If we can beat them at home that will be a comprehensive beating of Australia home and away and that's something we really want to achieve," said Smith.

"We've got a lot of confidence out of winning in Australia and we'd like to keep taking those big strides forward."

With anticipation heightened after South Africa's Test and one-day series double in Australia, the International Cricket Council's Test championship mace, given to the world's best team, has been on display in Johannesburg, where up to 90,000 spectators are expected to attend the game.

North enhanced his Test selection prospects with two half centuries and a career-best 6-69 with his off-spin against the South African Board President's XI at the weekend.

And the Western Australian could win the all-rounder slot from McDonald, who made his debut in Sydney last month.


Of more concern for the Australian selectors is their inexperienced bowling attack, which will be led by left-arm paceman Mitchell Johnson.

He is likely to be joined by Peter Siddle and Doug Bollinger, who are on their first tours, and Hilfenhaus, but Ponting is confident his seamers will do a decent job.

He said: "Spin bowlers don't have a very good record here. Seam bowlers and particularly swing bowlers have done well."

South Africa have no such concerns and with skipper Smith back in the side after recovering from a hand injury, the selectors even had the luxury of omitting former vice-captain Ashwell Prince, who scored 900 runs at an average of 64.28 in 2008.

Smith is likely to lead the same starting XI which the Proteas their first ever Test series victory in Australia at the end of last year.

South Africa from: Graeme Smith (captain), Neil McKenzie, Hashim Amla, Jacques Kallis, AB de Villiers, JP Duminy, Mark Boucher, Morne Morkel, Paul Harris, Dale Steyn, Makhaya Ntini and Lonwabo Tsotsobe.

Australia from: Ricky Ponting (captain), Simon Katich, Phil Hughes, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew McDonald, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus and Bryce McGain.

Umpires: Billy Bowden (NZL), Steve Bucknor (WI).

TV umpire: Asad Rauf (PAK).

Match referee: Jeff Crowe (NZL).

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see also
North stakes claim for Test place
22 Feb 09 |  Australia
Hughes named in Aussie tour squad
05 Feb 09 |  Australia
Prince left out of S Africa squad
11 Feb 09 |  South Africa
Smith ready to take on Australia
06 Feb 09 |  South Africa
Australia secure consolation win
07 Jan 09 |  Cricket
Duminy fightback stuns Australia
28 Dec 08 |  Cricket
Australia in South Africa 2009
09 May 08 |  Cricket

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