Ricky Ponting is backing youngster Phillip Hughes to have a big impact on this Ashes summer.
The 20-year-old opening batsman scored three first-class centuries in his 574 runs at 143.50 for Middlesex during a six-week guest stint, after his sensational Test series debut in South Africa.
Hughes bounced back from a four-ball duck on his Test debut to finish with two centuries and a 75 in the three-Test series in South Africa last February-March to herald his arrival in elite cricket.
The New South Wales left-hander was on Wednesday named in Australia's 16-man squad for the July-August Ashes Test series against England and is expected to open the innings with Simon Katich in the opening Cardiff Test on July 8.
Ponting quipped that he hoped the three-Test youngster's flood of runs wouldn't dry up for the Ashes battle.
"It's terrific for him to be gaining that experience and exposure of English conditions leading into the Ashes series," Ponting said Wednesday.
"I am a little bit worried that he's scoring so many runs and I would like him to keep a few in the bank for a little later down the track.
"But he's impressed everyone with the way he's gone about his cricket, whether it's for New South Wales, Australia or Middlesex."
Andrew Hilditch, chairman of selectors, said his panel had been taken by surprise by Hughes's meteoric rise.
"We've probably been planning this squad for about two years," he said.
"It's pretty close to the squad we would have predicted back then, probably the only major thing was the emergence of Phillip Hughes, which I suppose no one could have predicted.
"It's a squad we anticipated as having and the recent South Africa tour gave us confidence to know that we are on the right track."