Michael Hussey: Sky is the limit for Suresh Raina

Suresh Raina (above) is a very talented player according to Michael Hussey © IANS

Chennai: May 15, 2013

Chennai Super Kings batsman Michael Hussey has heaped praise on Suresh Raina and said that sky is the limit for Raina considering his wealth of talent.

Mr. Cricket’s amazing consistency and immense run hunger even after retirement from Australia speaks volume about his talent. Currently he is the second in the list of top run-getter of Indian Premier League 2013.

After Chennai Super Kings (CSK) won their last home game of the season, against Delhi Daredevils, Hussey, spoke to IPLT20.com about his batting and much more.

Once upon a time Hussey was labelled as a Test specialist but after his T20 exploits the cricketing world appreciated his ability as a dangerous batsman in all three formats.Hussey said,” I’m not sure about being a dangerous batsman. I’ve got an important role of trying to get the team off to a good start and it’s just nice to contribute. It doesn’t happen all the time. In T20 cricket you need a bit of luck along the way and it’s nice that luck has gone my way in this tournament.”

One wonders if Hussey has developed his specially for game for T20 cricket. “I think it slowly developed over time. I was very much a defensive player when I first started playing. Probably learning to play in different formats of the game and different situations teaches you to try and be a bit more adventurous,” said Mr. Cricket.

Some of the players make technical adjustments, the stance is different across different formats. Hussey said: “I don’t change too much in regards with my preparation and technique. I probably try and clear the front leg a little bit in T20. In Tests you try and stay behind the line and play the ball in front of your eyes whereas in T20s you’re looking to free your arms and hit the ball a bit more. That’s probably the only small technical change that I make.”

Some of the power hitters like Kieron Pollard and Chris Gayle use heavier bats in the T20 format. “No, I don’t change my bat; I know most boys use heavier bats in T20s but I just try and keep the same bat,” said Hussey.

Hussey was originally an opener but the Australian side had established openers in their Test and One-Day international team. So he had to bat in the middle-order. Hussey developed his game as per the demands of the team which included adding attacking shots in his repertoire. “I was an opener for most of my career but then having to move into the middle order was my only opportunity to play for Australia. So, I had to learn pretty quickly and I really enjoyed the challenge. There are so many different situations you came across batting in the middle order. At times you come in with your team in a lot of trouble having lost early wickets. Sometimes, you come in at 300 for three and you’ve just got to tee off. You bat with the tail sometimes – there are so many great situations,” said Hussey.

The Australian southpaw is one of the best players of spin bowling. “I’ve always enjoyed playing on Indian pitches. I enjoy the slower wickets where you’ve got to time the ball, place it in gaps and try to manipulate the field. It’s a great challenge and one that I really love to handle,” said Hussey.

Hussey is always seen honing his sweep shots: conventional and reverse-sweeps. “I think it’s an important option to have. In T20 cricket generally the bowlers are trying to bowl quite fast and so the sweep can be a very dangerous shot to play. In Test matches if there’s rough outside the off-stump it can come into play more. But it’s a good option to have even in the shortest format. That’s the thing with T20 – you can’t be scoring in just one area because it makes it too easy for the bowler to tie you up,” said Hussey who scored a century on his IPL debut against Kings XI Punjab in 2008.

While the modest Mr. Cricket downplayed his own brilliance, he was magnanimous in his praise of ‘a freak of a batsman’, AB de Villiers and his CSK team-mate, Suresh Raina for whom ‘sky is the limit’.

Hussey regards AB de Villiers as a very difficult batsman to bowl to. Hussey said, “He has immense belief in his own ability and he’s a fantastic player. I think he’s one of the best. There are the obvious ones like Chris Gayle and Shane Watson but they are powerful guys. But what makes AB special is that he can score runs all around. I think Suresh Raina is another fantastic T20 player. He has got a very good mix of working the ball and bringing in the power game as well.”

Talking of Raina, Hussey said that he is a quality batsman. “The only thing that I’ve been telling Suresh [Raina] is to keep his mind clear and let his instincts take over. He’s such a talented player but great players tend to keep their mind blank and play with freedom. If he does that in Test cricket, the sky is the limit for him,” said Hussey.

A lot has been said and written about Raina’s weakness against the short ball. Hussey does not think Raina has any problem with the short ball. “I have seen a lot of teams targeting him with the short ball and he generally dispatches them into the crowd. So, I don’t think there’s an issue there, to be honest. It’s just all mental,” said Hussey.