Melbourne: Opening batsman Phillip Hughes marked his selection for the third Ashes Test in Perth by getting out for a duck when playing for New South Wales in the state-grade Sheffield Shield on Friday.
Hughes, who was bullied out of the national side by England's seamers during last year's losing Ashes series, lasted little more than an over before hitting a full-toss to mid-wicket where it was snaffled by South Australia's Ben Edmondson.
The duck followed a total of four in the first innings, and continued a poor domestic season for the 22-year-old as he prepares to replace opener Simon Katich at Perth, where the track is traditionally fast and bouncy.
The chance to target Hughes, who proved vulnerable to short-pitched bowling in England and has only seven Tests to his name, has already been noted by England captain Andrew Strauss.
But Hughes declared his technique and confidence in tip-top shape this week and was backed by gritty former opener Justin Langer, who said the talented youngster would be itching to make Strauss eat his words.
"I will back him over any other player in Australian cricket," Langer told local media on Friday.
"I hope England keep taunting him ... When the pressure is on and he absolutely has to score runs, he does. He is a little fighter.
"It's fine for them to say they have these plans (for Hughes) but they've still got to execute them."
Langer said he had taken the erratic youngster under his wing to work on his batting and felt his problems were more mental than technical.
"Maybe he is just trying too hard to get back into the Australian team," said Langer, whose partnership with fellow retiree Matthew Hayden regularly plundered England attacks.
Hughes was one of four changes in the Australian side, with Marcus North dropped in favour of all-rounder Steven Smith.
Untried spinner Michael Beer has been brought in for Xavier Doherty, while Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus will vye for the last pace bowling slot after Doug Bollinger was cut.
Australia will seek to peg back England's 1-0 lead in the five-Test Ashes series when the third Test starts on Dec. 16.