As published in The Roar, 12 January 2012
It’s been three and a half years since Phil Jaques last donned the whites in Australia’s 87 run win over the West Indies at Bridgetown.
Jaques opened with none other than Simon Katich, whose demotion from the national side will go down in history as one of the Andrew Hilditch era’s many ‘what the’ moments.
And given Australia’s post golden era period of trial and mostly error, where much of the strife has occurred at the top of the order, then Phil Jaques appears destined to sit alongside the likes of Stuart Law, Martin Love and Brad Hodge in the faded annals as players whose baggy green caps never got the workout their brief appearances suggested.
In that last test now seemingly so long ago, Jaques peeled off a rapid fire 31 in the first dig, followed by 108 in a 223 run opening partnership in the second.
But as fate would have it, Jaques’ good timing was restricted to the middle. Once the incumbent openers Hayden and Katich’s all too brief injuries resolved themselves, Jaques resigned himself to being patient. And his patience was further tested when Hayden called stumps, and the selectors embarked on their prolonged love affair with the technically-flawed-but-brilliant-on-his-day Phil Hughes.
At least Katto had a decent crack.
Of course a chronic back injury and subsequent surgery consigned Jaques to being a patient when he might have been fulfilling a burgeoning test career down the order, one that already featured three tons in just 11 tests, at an average of 47.47 no less.
Jaques is now 32 years young – time is not yet the enemy. And Hayden’s own return from the wilderness to become an imperious batting force might be a source of comfort / inspiration.
But for now it appears an unlikely notion as elusively distant as that last test match. Although Jaques still boasts a first class average of 49.37, including 38 hundreds (comparing more than favourably with Sean Marsh, just saying), his pre bash for cash Shield season was less than underwhelming.
The wheel can turn quickly though, and hopefully the new selection hierarchy haven’t marked his card. To see Phil Jaques dust off the baggy green once more would be quite a story.