Australia v Sri Lanka, 1st ODI, Melbourne January 9, 2013

Malinga 'in the form of his life' - Hussey


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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Janaka 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.

  • Andrew 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.

  • Nicholas 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!

  • mazen 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.

  • chamitha 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.

  • associate cricket fan 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.

  • Ben 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!

  • Dummy4 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

  • Dummy4 on January 10, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    Malinga has been on fire in the BBL. Herath made us look like amateurs on the last day at the SCG. I'm hoping for a good contest - although I suspect Finch will go nuts and paper over the cracks of our rather dismal batting lineup.

  • Bradman on January 10, 2013, 1:17 GMT

    Srilanka have to win a couple of game to get over badly defeated by Australian in the test matches, its reflecting the Srilankan players exciting comments about the one day games.but other hand Australian take it easy of one day games resting there players, may be Australian under estimate Srilankan any how my predict is Australia win 5-0 or 4-1, same time Srilanka put hard fight for sure games should be interesting, good luck both teams