Michael Hussey may have ended amongst Test cricket's highest run-getters had he made his debut at 25

Michael Hussey… his exit leaves a crater in the Australian battling line-up © Getty Images

By Nishad Pai Vaidya

The Australian summer has been a season of ending with Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey walking into sunset. While Ponting retired as one of the legends of the game, Hussey too leaves behind a rich legacy. Coming into Test cricket after the age of 30, Hussey has done exceedingly well, and his numbers make a compelling read.

The early part of Hussey’s career coincided with Australia’s world-beating era. With the likes of Ponting, Steve Waugh, Mark Waugh, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer and Damien Martyn in the line-up, Hussey had to bide his time and wait for his chance to don the coveted Baggy Green. That opportunity came his way in 2005 – that too as an opener. His first Test wasn’t one he would like to remember and he pushed the throttle in his second.

Despite making his debut after the age of 30, Hussey has been prolific and consistent. He is amongst the top ten run-scorers in Test cricket post the age of 30.

Here are the relevant figures:

Highest run-scorers post the age of 30

Player Debut age M Runs Avg 100s 50s Highest
Rahul Dravid 23 95 7674 51.5 22 35 270
Matthew Hayden 22 82 7306 53.72 27 24 380
Ricky Ponting 20 85 7001 50 21 37 221
Sachin Tendulkar 16 89 6834 50.62 20 31 248*
Alec Stewart 26 107 6758 39.75 11 37 173
Brian Lara 21 68 6547 53.66 21 21 400*
Steve Waugh 20 92 6487 54.05 24 23 199
Graham Gooch 21 76 6360 46.08 16 31 333
Michael Hussey 30 79 6235 51.52 19 29 195
Allan Border 23 87 6139 50.73 14 35 205

 
In this list, Hussey is the only man in this list who made his debut after the age of 30. The others had first played for their countries in their 20s. In comparison, Hussey had the task of starting out from scratch in Test cricket and then replicate his domestic form at the highest level.

The obvious question that comes to mind: What if Hussey would have made his debut at an earlier age? Had he donned the Baggy Green at 25 and maintained a similar streak, he would have easily been amongst the highest run-scorers in Test cricket.

In a seven-year long Test career, he has played 137 innings i.e. approximately 19 innings a year. Considering that as a bench mark, he would have played 95 more innings, had he made his debut at 25 (five extra years multiplied by 19). Hussey has 16 not outs to his name, i.e. one every eight innings. Considering these facts, let us see what his numbers would have looked like had he made his Test debut at 25. For the purpose of this argument, let us take his current batting average as his number for the said phase.

Here are his hypothetical numbers from the age of 25 to 30:

I NO Runs Avg
95 12 4276 51.52

 
The runs have been calculated with regards to the average taken. Now, let us add this to his career tally and see what it presents:

  I NO Runs Avg
Hypothetical
(From 25 to 30)
95 12 4276 51.52
Career tally 137 16 6235 51.52
Total 232 28 10511 51.52

 
In Hussey’s case, the Australian fan would like to believe that he would have scored over 10000 Test runs had he entered the stage earlier. This would have placed him amongst the top ten run-scorers in the history of the game.

Nevertheless, Hussey came into international cricket with the wealth of experience. He had over 10000 First-Class runs at the time of his debut and was ready for the highest level. That he took only 166 days (19 Test innings) to score 1000 runs reflects how well he adjusted to Test cricket. He averaged over 80 in his first 21 Tests and had scored eight hundreds. It’s very difficult to maintain such a high average and he did not. But he still remained prolific. All that despite the fact that majority of his innings were at numbers five and six.
Hussey’s retirement had taken people by surprise considering his phenomenal run. But, as the old saying goes, retire when people ask “Why” rather than “Why not?”

Hussey couldn’t have timed it better and remaining unbeaten during an Australian victory at Sydney was a fitting finale to the fantastic career.

Thank you for the memories, Mr Cricket!

(Nishad Pai Vaidya is a Correspondent with CricketCountry and an analyst, anchor and voice-over artist for the site’s YouTube Channel. He shot to fame by spotting a wrong replay during IPL4 which resulted in Sachin Tendulkar’s dismissal. His insights on the game have come in for high praise from cerebral former cricketers. He has also participated on live TV talk-shows on cricket. Nishad can be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/nishad_44)

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