Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Melbourne

Malinga 'in the form of his life' - Hussey

Brydon Coverdale

January 9, 2013

Comments: 64 | Text size: A | A

David Hussey and Lasith Malinga celebrate a wicket, Melbourne Stars v Hobart Hurricanes, Big Bash League, December 15, 2012
David Hussey and Lasith Malinga won't be team-mates on Friday © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: David Hussey | Lasith Malinga
Series/Tournaments: Sri Lanka tour of Australia

David Hussey has described his Melbourne Stars team-mate and soon-to-be ODI opponent Lasith Malinga as "in the form of his life" and believes the ability of Australia's batsmen to handle Malinga's three variations will be critical when the one-day series begins on Friday. Malinga is the equal leading wicket taker in the Big Bash League this summer and his presence in Sri Lanka's team makes them a much more daunting outfit than they were during the Tests.

The spinners Ajantha Mendis and Akila Dananjaya, who boast hard-to-read variations, will also play important roles but it is Malinga who has the potential to really flummox the Australians. Hussey said Australia's batsmen would need to watch closely for the slower balls, bouncers and yorkers from Malinga, who collected 4 for 49 last time Sri Lanka played a one-day international at the MCG.

"They've got some of the best bowlers in the world," Hussey said. "Lasith Malinga, I was lucky enough to play with him at the Melbourne Stars and he's in the form of his life. All our batters have to really get down to business and do their homework and really try to take him out of the equation.

"Never scared [of facing him] - it's always exciting. You always want to play the best bowlers in the world. It's a great opportunity to face him. If you do well against him, it gives not only your team a lot of confidence but yourself and your game a lot of confidence as well."

"You've just got to get your plans and your focus purely on his three different balls. He's got a very fast bumper, a very good yorker which he executes every time, and his slower ball. Just get your individual plans ready to go and try to nullify his game plan. If we take him out of the game, it definitely goes a long way to winning the game."

Hussey will have a key role to play in that, as the second-most experienced member of Australia's batting group for Friday's match, behind the recalled Brad Haddin. The absence of Michael Clarke and Shane Watson, and the controversial decision not to include Michael Hussey after his announcement that he would retire from international cricket at the end of the season, has left a major experience vacuum in Australia's side.

But despite having played 64 ODIs, Hussey knows that his future in the national side may be assessed on a series-by-series basis, and at the age of 35 he is well aware that time is running out to bring his domestic form to the international arena. He is likely to fill the finishing role occupied so successfully by his brother in the past and he wants to make up for his struggles during the one-day series against Pakistan in the UAE last year.

"A few times I've played for Australia in the past, I've had a few regrets and didn't really play the way I wanted to play," Hussey said. "This time I'm just going to have a lot of fun, enjoy myself and play with no regrets and a lot of freedom. I haven't done quite as well as I wanted to do. I haven't really finished games off the way I wanted to finish games off and win games of cricket for Australia. This time, fresh mind, new opportunity and play with no regrets.

"The UAE series probably didn't go to plan. I didn't play very well at all, and then the World T20 I didn't get much of an opportunity. You come back to Australia you really want to right the wrongs and prove a few people wrong. I really have struggled the first part of the Shield season but one-day cricket I've done quite well. This is a great opportunity for me to free the mind, play with no regrets and show a few people that I can play at the level."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by Prabhash1985 on (January 12, 2013, 12:41 GMT)

@Robert Raiskums : With my comment (if published), your one will go unseen. Thank you very much for kind words. At least a few words saying something good about Sri Lanka by a non Sri Lankan, an Australian in particular. I personally believe that Sri Lanka didn't give up. They fought all the time. But, Australians have the strength they require in their land. I think, Sri Lankans should look into the bright spots they got. Every injury produced an opportunity for younger players to emerge. Let's look at the bright sides, and consider this to be a game rather than a war. Suppose we won. But, I personally don't want to say "Australians cannot". I don't know what wrong we did to get thrashed like this in media. Pathetic.

Posted by Meety on (January 11, 2013, 4:30 GMT)

@Edwards_A on (January 09 2013, 10:10 AM GMT) - re: Khawaja; not wanting to hang a bloke on one performance, but ".... if you don't believe his running is sharp now then watch some of his Ryobi or Big Bash games and you can see for yourself..." - well I have just watched his ODI debut,, briefly he looked good until - an error most 9 year olds wouldn't make. RUN OUT! He'll learn from it.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (January 10, 2013, 21:49 GMT)

@Herath-UK (post on January 09 2013, 07:51 AM GMT): So true; it's no use for tests having some of the best bowlers in the world, that are retired/refuse to play tests!

Posted by mazii on (January 10, 2013, 9:51 GMT)

matchfxrpkn... So, you are here after posting comments in Indo-Pak match as a Pakistani. As an Indian you should be proud of yourself and these tactics will only cause disgrace for your country. Look how Virat Kohli was treated by Junaid. Malinga is a good bowler and way better than many over rated Indian bowlers.

Posted by sonu77 on (January 10, 2013, 6:09 GMT)

@Parakrama Mahaarachchi: mate, MCG surface always offer greater bounce & assistance for a fast bowler than ur flat,dead Premadasa pitch.I think that's the main reason for this different outcome(samuel scenario).I remember Samuels hit this same bouncer out of the park 2,3 times in t20 final.

Posted by Htc-Android on (January 10, 2013, 3:36 GMT)

@Imsrk. If you find any bowler who can take 3 hatricks in ODIs and take 4 wickets in a row, then i will accept he is ordinary. anyways malinga is way better than indias club level fast bowlers.

Posted by Kolpak1989 on (January 10, 2013, 3:28 GMT)

Young Aussie team with something to prove vs experienced Sri Lankans who are consistently one of the top 2-3 ODI teams in the world. Should be a cracking series. Come on Finchey!

Posted by   on (January 10, 2013, 3:17 GMT)

Hassey is wrong. Malinga is playing very much better for IPL and Big Bash than for his own country. His records have proved that. You may remember how he was attacked by Marlon Samuels in world T20 final in Sri Lanka last year when he was playing for his own country.See how he bowled at Samuels in the Big Bash to get him injured. He will play in the ODI's and T20's against Australia like the way he played T20 final last year

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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