Another sun sets on another fine Australian cricketer’s international career.
Mike Hussey defied the recent trend of hanging onto his career with dear life by simply doing it his way.
Can it be possible that someone so conventional and textbook in their approach to the game of cricket, can reject such popular means of ending their career?
Hussey made the right decision to not allow his form to dictate the terms of his retirement. Somehow Shane Warne’s decision to retire on top of his game never caught on as modern greats Rahul Dravid, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting all decided to retire until their positions were unattainable. Even the Little Master should follow Hussey’s example.
Although, the truth is that Hussey never accomplished a fine test batting average of 51.25 without constant setbacks and overall bad luck.
Hussey made his debut for Western Australia in 1994 and became one of the premier batsmen in the State competition. Some 15,313 runs and three County Championship triple-hundreds later (only Wally Hammond and Graeme Hick have achieved this), Hussey finally lived the Australian dream of donning the Baggy Green.
He was a late bloomer who excelled in the twilight years of Australia’s test dominance and in the testing years that followed Australian cricket.
As it is often the case with sports, the men in power of selecting the team are often the last to be convinced of talent. The English press and supporters who watched Hussey dominate the County Championship were astounded by how long it took for him to make his test debut.
In his first Ashes Series, Hussey piled on 458 runs at an average of 91.60 as the English could only say, “we told you so.”
While Ponting will be remembered for his ruthless combativeness and that rocking pull shot, Hussey shall be toasted for his unyielding intensity at the batting crease, his timely knocks and surgical precision with his cover drive.
In so many ways, Hussey can be likened to Australia’s ultimate “finisher” in One Day cricket, Michael Bevan. Bevan was one of the finest in batting with the tail and Hussey proved he could do the same. Yet, unlike Bevan, Hussey was able to adjust his game and excel in both the shorter version and in the longest form of the game.
In the 2005 Boxing Day Test Match, Hussey combined with “everyone’s bunny” Glenn McGrath for 107 for the last wicket against South Africa and 123 ninth-wicket partnership with Peter Siddle against Pakistan in the 2010 Sydney Test (while under appallingly suspicious circumstances), was classic Mr. Cricket.
The Australian public and probably his teammates expected Hussey to play in The Ashes Series in England and in the Australian summer next year.
The old guard has officially vacated Australian cricket and Captain Michael Clarke now stands alone as the one constant in Australia’s ever changing and uncertain batting lineup.
Hussey’s family will be undoubtedly happy with his decision to call it quits but Australian cricket might not feel so comfortable with it.
With Shane Watson breaking down as much as the somewhat endearing phrase “mate” is said on the cricket field, and a whole bunch of inexperienced and modest talent at the top of the order, Australian cricket is once again in a vulnerable position.
Ponting suffered multiple Ashes defeats as Australian Captain and it seems Clarke will also be at the mercy of the English in 2013. Ponting didn’t have a bowling attack for two of the three Ashes series losses and now Clarke doesn’t have any mates to wield the willow with him.
Clarke has already done an extraordinary job as both tactician and batsman, clearly Australia’s finest captain in a long time.
Next year when a match winning or saving knock is needed, Clarke might just be wishing his old wisely partner at the other end of the crease, Mr Cricket, rolled the dice for just that one more year.