South Africa in Australia 2012-13

Brisbane dominance is history, says Hussey

Daniel Brettig

November 18, 2012

Comments: 7 | Text size: A | A

Nathan Lyon and the rest celebrate a late strike, Australia v South Africa, 1st Test, Brisbane, 5th day, November 13, 2012
Australia came back strongly at the Gabba, but Michael Hussey feels his team cannot rest on those laurels © Getty Images
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Any sense of haughtiness among Australia's players, after what amounted to a points-victory over South Africa in Brisbane, has been ardently shooed away by Michael Hussey as the two sides reconvened in Adelaide. Much chatter was devoted to the momentum the hosts gained over the final three days of the Gabba Test, recovering from a poor first day with the ball and a dire first hour with the bat to be the only side with a chance of victory on the final afternoon.

Chief among the proponents of this view was Australia's captain Michael Clarke, who opened his regular newspaper column with the following words: "It's amazing how much can be taken out of a draw". Hussey, however, was intent on snapping Australia out of repose and back into a state of urgency, rejecting the notion that Brisbane's psychological blows would have much bearing on proceedings at Adelaide Oval from Thursday.

Reminded of the corresponding sequence of Test matches during the 2010-11 Ashes series, in which England batted their way out of a considerable hole in Brisbane and then took that confidence into fashioning a startling first half-hour in Adelaide, Hussey said the first session of the second Test would say far more about its outcome than any of the days' play that preceded it in the first.

One significant difference between 2010 and 2012 is the additional times the two sides have had between matches, allowing South Africa's players to holiday while Australia's returned to home ports. Whatever fatigue developed over the course of two lengthy first innings in Brisbane has thus been suitably flushed out.

"I don't really like to think we take any momentum coming out of Brisbane," Hussey said. "I think we start nil-all again, and the first session is very important. Coming out of Brisbane in the Ashes a couple of years ago we lost the first session against England here in Adelaide very poorly, we were 3 for 1 in the first half an hour of the match and were basically playing catch up from then, so it's very important that we start this match well.

"What's happened in Brisbane is gone, it doesn't really matter, what matters is that first hour, that first half an hour in this Test match - we've got to start better than we did a couple of years ago against England."

Clarke used the term "patchy" to define Australia's overall display at the Gabba, and this is something that must improve if his team is to prosper this week. Should the bowlers be called upon first, they will have an even narrower window for early wickets than was afforded by the Brisbane surface, as Adelaide's turf can lose its vestigial early moisture in a matter of minutes. The top-order batsmen, meanwhile, cannot rightly expect to give up 3 for 40 and again be bailed out by Clarke and Hussey.

South Africa are also unlikely to be so accommodating again if they have the chance to press home an early advantage. It was clear in Brisbane that the loss of the second day to rain sapped Graeme Smith's side of the expectation that there was sufficient time to win the match, but no such precipitation is forecast for Adelaide and its desert climate. Hussey would not entertain the suggestion that South Africa's Test side is not collectively ruthless enough, pointing to the world rankings as proof of their capacity to go in for the kill.

"They're the No. 1 team in the world, so they've obviously been ruthless in Test matches and won Test matches playing their style of play," Hussey said. "So I don't think you can question the way they go about their Test cricket, because they've been so successful for quite a period of time.

"I think we're close definitely, and I believe we can beat them definitely, but we're going to have to play good, hard disciplined Test match cricket for long periods of time. We can't just do it for an hour or a session, we've got to be able to do that all day, and back it up day after day. The one thing they've been able to do in the past few years is they play good, hard disciplined Test cricket for long periods of time, and that's why they're No. 1.

"That's what we're aspiring to do and I don't think we're far away, particularly playing in our home conditions, where we know the conditions really well. I think that definitely brings us closer."

Shane Watson arrived in Adelaide with a steep task ahead of him in order to be available for the Test, and his success in recovering from a calf strain will be monitored closely from the time Australia commence training on Monday morning. "I believe he's been running, so that's positive, there's still three or four days leading up to the Test match, so I'm sure he'll be given every opportunity to prove his fitness to get ready for the second Test," Hussey said. "I did speak to him in Brisbane and he was very keen to try and make sure he's right for this Test match.

"Even batting a long innings can take a bit out of the body, so he's got to make sure he can get through that first, then hopefully offer something with the ball as well."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by MattyP1979 on (November 19, 2012, 2:45 GMT)

Massive fan of Hussey. Lets his bat do the talking. Generally speaking the louder the Aussie the worse the player. Looking forward to the next test and it is already closer than i thought it would be. I still feel SA are a class above Aus who rely very heavily on Clarke but he is in such good form this could be a really close series.

Posted by Meety on (November 18, 2012, 23:13 GMT)

@SurlyCynic on (November 18 2012, 12:05 PM GMT) - "How the mightly have fallen." - YES, all the way to one win from the #1 ranking! Watchout when we play real good cricket! LOL! == == == Dunno about Watto. He's basically going to come into the game on the back of one innings in 5 weeks. Dubious!

Posted by Aussasinator on (November 18, 2012, 15:42 GMT)

Australia loses whenever they play these mindgames. But we have to also note that SA never displayed the attitude and body language of a winner. Something is laid back and unimaginative about Graeme Smith.

Posted by Marcio on (November 18, 2012, 15:41 GMT)

@AnishSomani, if saying "Players should watch the ball, not the crowd" is arrogant, you have a very loose definition of the word. It never ceases to amaze me how easily riled people are at perfectly mundane comments made by players when journalists ask them a few questions. Read what players actually say, not the dramatic headlines journalists put up when reporting them.

Posted by AnishSomani on (November 18, 2012, 13:02 GMT)

David Warner was so arrogant.He should learn from M Hussey.Hussey is also too humble but being humble isbetter than proud

Posted by lthornte on (November 18, 2012, 12:59 GMT)

Finally a voice of reason after the media's initial volume of nonsense, as Hussey said the result of the last test is meaningless, and that has been further compounded by the long break between tests. I do hope that the Aussie selectors stick with Hilf, considering he's been our leading wicket taker over the past year, bringing in Starc seems to me like a decision that has been heavily influenced by the media, his form in 20/20 means nothing and they shouldnt bring him in based on one good bowling performance, they made that mistake with Marsh last summer

Posted by SurlyCynic on (November 18, 2012, 12:05 GMT)

At least Hussey sounds sensible without indulging in all the 'points victory' rubbish. The likes of Warne and McGrath were never interested in points victories, only real victories. How the mightly have fallen.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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