Michael Hussey bid farewell to Test cricket at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday. If one ever had a doubt about how to go about stuff, Hussey must be their perusal - method over madness, caution mixed with aggression, the bulwark in times of crisis, and the catalyst for every canter.
Not the boisterous Aussie you would think of, Hussey is said to be one of the nicest guys on and off the field. Trained to be a science teacher, he has applied a few dynamics of lesson planning and exam preparation to the way he goes about with cricket.
Before you could say Jack Robinson, he would nudge singles and doubles and pile up forty runs, laced with the odd boundary or two. You might even notice a Ricky Ponting racing to a hundred, but when you take a look at the scorecard, you would surprisingly find Hussey batting on 80 with a healthy strike-rate.
A farmer’s doppelganger, he was one who kept the score ticking. Supposed to carry on from where Michael Bevan left, Hussey has been as assuring in ODIs as he was in Tests. He was never the average cricketer but one who was always associated with an average that was of antique value. Perhaps, Hussey ticks a few boxes that Bevan somehow could not - a successful Test career.
One of Hussey’s high-octane performances would be the planned assault of 60 in 24 balls against Pakistan that launched Australia to their solitary World T20 Final appearance, an innings that would always hold its mark in the shortest format of the game.
His last Test match at the SCG was his 79th in succession, meaning he has played all Tests ever since his debut - a testament to his fitness and purple patches with the bat. With ‘Mr. Cricket’ batting, Australia never had to worry about who was at the other end, with him masterminding many a Houdini act with the tail.
A modern legend, probably aggrandised by the fact that he had to wait for his chance which came when he was 30 years old, he grabbed the chance like no other. In a team of seasoned match winners that we know, Hussey fit into the bill like a tyre in a car.
Goldust to the side, much of his value can be attributed to the lorries and ships of First-Class cricket he had to have under his belt before he really met selectors’ eyes. Hussey can serve as the idol to those who want a renaissance at the top, and those who want to break into the team at an age like 30.
In the Indian setting, we could be discussing a few names like Subramaniam Badrinath and Mohammad Kaif who are 30, give or take a couple of years. Although, it requires tremendous dour and self-motivation from their side to play Tests once again. Good batsmen in their own merit, they have had good domestic seasons but have somehow not caught the selectors’ eyes.
With the ‘catch them young’ trend catching up, and the call for youth in the side growing more vociferous by the day, it gets tougher for these experienced campaigners to enter the fabric. Though it would be unfair to single out one of the younger batsmen, it would be cricketing sanity to let an experienced batsman bind the middle-order given the recent batting failures and the retirement exodus of the experienced batting junta.
But anyone, who manages to come in at the age of 30 or more, walks on a tightrope with a noose tightening around the neck, facing the devil of not being picked again and the deep sea of age-related fitness and form issues and triumphs against such odds, needs to be truly extraordinary, which Hussey was.
We have moved many nautical miles from the days of WG Grace when he played till his mid-60s but still. Players like Hussey emerge to enthral us with his ergonomics, and adding winning and work ethic in his repertoire, just like WG Grace improved the repertoire of the strokes played by batsmen.
(Madhav Krishnan is a student from Birla Institute of Technology and Science (Hyderabad), pursuing M.Sc (Chemistry) and B.E. in Mechanical Engineering)
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First Published: January 7, 2013, 8:17 am