Michael Hussey feels responsible for rift in Australian camp

Michael Hussey (above) said he was responsible for the infamous fracas between Clarke and Simon Katich after the Test match against South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in 2008 © AFP

Sep 23, 2013
Michael Hussey has revealed in a soon to be released book Underneath the Southern Cross how he was unknowingly responsible for causing a split in the team after refusing to attend a boat party arranged by the then captain of the national team Michael Clarke.

Hussey was reported by adelaidenow.com.au saying how there was a party arranged on James Packer’s boat several months in advance to reward the Australian team at the end of the summer and to thank them for their efforts. When the arrangement was made Hussey didn’t know that at the time of the party he would have retired from the Test cricket.

After the Test match against Sri Lanka got over, the Australian team were celebrating in the dressing room. The team had organised for John Williamson’s performance and he sang ‘True Blue’ in the dressing room. The team presented Hussey a watch and thanked him for his services to the Australian team.

Hussey told the team manager Gavin Dovey, “I reckon the boat will be great for the boys, but after we have our time in the dressing room as a team, I’ll have my time with the family.” Since Hussey’s kids were not allowed on the boat, he decided to stay back with his family in the team hotel.

When the team assembled downstairs in the hotel, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon came upto Hussey and asked him why he was not joining the team. Hussey told them: “I’m staying with the family, but I want you to go, you’ll have a great time.” The team was not aware about Hussey’s prior discussion with Dovey about this matter. Listening to this Siddle, Lyon and Shane Watson cancelled their plan to go to the boat. Hussey asked Lyon into going to the party but he, along with Siddle and Watson, did not turn up.

Next morning Hussey got a message from Dovey saying, “I really want to talk to you in the morning.” Dovey said he was told by Watson and Siddle that the team shouldn’t have gone to the boat without him (Hussey). According to Dovey this incident might “cause divisions” in the team going forward.

Hussey explained the situation to both Siddle and Watson. Siddle understood the situation and expressed his disappointment at the team not staying with Hussey, but he was fine with it. Watson however was adamant.

Everything seemed to be resolved until an e-mail was written against captain Clarke regarding the boat incident. The e-mail alleged that there were breakdown in relations between Hussey and Clarke and there was a disagreement between them about the victory lap at the WACA. Hussey denied that there was any merit in the point stating that he was not promised a victory lap at WACA and John Inverarity had just made an offer regarding the same.

Hussey said that Clarke was very “empathetic” to his situation. He denied the fact that there was any call from Clarke or David Warner abusing him about the leaked information. Talking about the floating rumours Hussey said: “It was hurtful on a number of levels. It put a dampener on what was otherwise a great time for me and the team. And I was worried it would affect my relationship with Michael. As soon as I saw it, I rang him and left a message and said, ‘There’s this email floating around; it’s a pack of lies and I had nothing to do with it.’”

The two eventually spoke and Clarke was angry about the e-mail. What worried him was that the mail was sent by someone close to the team. Clarke’s manager found out that the mail was sent by a guy in the Sydney financial markets who’d been at cricket getting drunk every day, heard some gossip and decided to write a mail on it.

Hussey also wrote in his book that he was responsible for the infamous fracas between Clarke and Simon Katich after the Test match against South Africa at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) in 2008. I still blame myself. “Soon after the match, Michael Clarke asked me if I could possibly complete the song before midnight,” reminisced Hussey.

Hussey said: “Every half-hour or so, Steve Bernard kept coming up to me and saying, ‘Huss, when are you going to sing the song?’ I was having a good time, and in the mood to sit for a while, and said, ‘Brutus, every time you ask me, I’m going to add another 15 minutes on to it.’”

Hussey didn’t know that Clarke had arranged a bar for post-dressing room celebrations. He was asking Bernard to hurry Hussey up and sing the song. Hussey said: “I wished in hindsight that he’d come up to me and said, ‘Huss, can we sing the song, we need to hurry up and go.’”

While Clarke was panicking, Katich got frustrated with Clarke talking continuously to Bernard. According to Hussey, out of nowhere a fight broke in the middle of the room between Clarke and Katich. The fight got separated very soon but Clarke stormed out of the dressing room. Hussey said: “We were all in a bit of shock. I certainly didn’t know what the hell had gone on. Kato [Katich] was very apologetic.”

Hussey recollects: “It was the first Test match for Doug Bollinger and Andrew McDonald — who had, coincidentally, replaced Andrew Symonds, who’d played his last Test in Melbourne. Kato was saying to each of them, ‘I’m really sorry for what happened. I just want you to enjoy this win, I’m really sorry, I don’t want to ruin your first Test match.’”
McDonald said, “Don’t worry, mate, this happens all the time in Victoria.”

The team song was sung without Clarke. Hussey said, “I felt completely responsible. I felt it was a black mark against my name that one of our brothers was missing for the team song. We’d won the Test match together, but he was gone. I felt dreadful about it, and the next morning tried calling him but couldn’t get through.

“I sent him [Clarke] messages. He eventually got back and said it wasn’t my fault, don’t worry, he’d sort out his differences with Kato [Katich].”