MELBOURNE - Former Australia fast bowler Merv Hughes has called for pacemen to send down an early bouncer in Australia’s first test against India to “clear the air” in the wake of Phillip Hughes’ tragic death from a short-pitched delivery. Former players and pundits have debated whether fast bowlers will be as enthusiastic about using the short ball which is employed to intimidate batsmen as much as taking their wickets.

Merv Hughes, who took 212 wickets in 53 tests for Australia, said teams must “play on”, citing Australia captain Michael Clarke’s moving eulogy at batsman Hughes’ funeral on Wednesday. “There’s been bouncers bowled over 100 years of cricket and this was an isolated incident,” Hughes said on a chat show on broadcaster Fox Sports, referring to the lethal injury sustained by his namesake during a domestic match last week.

“The longer it goes without someone bowling a bouncer, the more it’s going to be talked about, the more it’s going to be on people’s minds. I reckon just to clear the air, the first ball of the game, each game, should just be a bouncer. And just say, ‘right, let’s get on with business.’”

After Hughes’ death, no bouncers were bowled by New Zealand’s pacemen during their test win over Pakistan in United Arab Emirates, though the slow, flat pitches would have offered little bounce to trouble batsmen. India paceman Mohammed Shami wasted little time in the opening day of his team’s tour match against a Cricket Australia XI in Adelaide on Thursday, sending down a bouncer at batsman Jordan Silk in his first over.

“(I was) a little bit shaken up but I just stayed composed and if anything it probably got me going a bit better,” Silk told TV reporters in Adelaide.

Australia selector Mark Waugh agreed that bowlers might struggle to be as aggressive as usual in the first test in Adelaide, which starts on Tuesday. “I think it probably will be (that way), maybe for the first test and then, as Merv said, as the summer rolls on, people get back to a bit of normality, their natural instincts kick in,” he told Fox Sports.