Michael Hussey
Michael Hussey (AFP Photo)

Late media tycoon Kerry Packer, who is credited with revolutionising cricket with his rebel World Cricket Series in 1970s, tried influencing selection for the fifth and final 2005 Oval Test with Australia in desperate state to save the series after conceding a 2-1 lead.

With Michael Hussey impressing in county cricket, Packer, reportedly asked former Cricket Australia chairman Bob Merriman to get the lefty in the playing XI replacing the struggling Damien Martyn.

According to ESPNcricinfo, Packer phoned Merriman and told him to “Get that f***ing Hussey in the side, quick.”

Merriman replied: “Kerry … the selectors will pick the side.”

Packer, not ready to back down, retorted: “They can’t pick a bloody club team, Martyn hasn’t made a run!”

The conversation did leave an impact with Merriman calling the then chief executive James Sutherland of the selection possibilities out of the squad of 17.

“Please remind Trevor Hohns that he can pick any Australian, he doesn’t have to pick from the 17. Just let him know that,” Merriman reportedly told Sutherland.

However, the selection never happened because of one major obstacle – Hussey was already on a plane out of UK to join an Australia A squad for tour of Pakistan.

“Bob, Mike Hussey’s on a plane now, we can’t get him in,” Sutherland reportedly told Merriman.

Hussey, one of the prolific domestic cricketers, had scored over 15,000 first-class runs without playing for Australia. He went on to make his much-awaited Test debut later in 2005, against West Indies in Brisbane.

Hussey wasn’t aware Packer his pushing his case but feels relieved to have not made the entry under immense hype and scrutiny.

“I didn’t know that story, so that blows me away really,” Hussey told ESPNcricinfo. “I do remember thinking at the time, there was a bit of speculation in the press, and I remember thinking to myself ‘oh gosh’. It was obviously one of the greatest series of all time, it had come right down to the wire for the last Test match, I didn’t want to be seen as the big saviour to try to help Australia win the series so I was actually quite petrified to be picked to be honest.”

The anecdote is part of a soon to be released book Bradman & Packer: The Deal That Changed Cricket.