Australia news December 29, 2012

Michael Hussey to retire from international cricket


Michael Hussey has left the cricket world wondering why he is retiring, rather than why not. In the midst of one of his most productive summers and with his place in the team completely beyond question, Hussey, 37, will end his international career at the conclusion of the Australian summer, meaning the New Year's Test against Sri Lanka in Sydney will be his last.

It was a decision Hussey revealed he had all but made before the season began, and needed only a waning desire for the looming tours of India and England to confirm it. Known universally as "Mr Cricket", this most intense and diligent Australian batsman could not find his usual enthusiasm for the 2013 schedule, and so will exit the game on top. The hole left by Hussey's loss to the Australian batting line-up, fielding circle and dressing room is incalculable.

"I've known for a while that I probably wanted to finish at the end of the Australian summer," Hussey told ESPNcricinfo. "I just wanted to see how I felt throughout he summer and my feelings hadn't really changed. I was looking ahead to the India series and the Ashes and I didn't have the same excitement or buzz about the challenges ahead.

"So I knew I was making the right decision because I knew my heart wasn't 100% in spending that amount of time away from home and being excited about the challenges that are going to come forward. Not very many players get to leave on their own terms, so I'm very fortunate in that respect.

"It's not so much a decision about how I'm playing, I still feel like I'm playing well. But it's more to do with everything else around the game, time away from home, the constant travel, the constant training, the constant pressures and stresses involved with international cricket as well, that eventually they take their toll on you."

There was no question about Hussey shelving Twenty20 or ODI matches to prolong his Test career, and in a way this was fitting, for no batsman in the 21st century has achieved such a revered place in all three formats of the game. Starting with the base of a pure technique fostered by opening the batting for Western Australia before he moved down the order, Hussey's combination of placement, power and matchless running between the wickets made him a man for all situations. He can point proudly to innings as contrasting as his barnstorming 60* to steal a a World Twenty20 semi-final from under Pakistan's noses in 2010, and his commanding 195 against England in the first Test of an Ashes series later that same year.

"I'd say looks can be deceiving," Hussey said. "It's certainly not easy, it's been very tough. And all three formats are very challenging in their own right. I think it just comes down to pride in your own performance really. I'm very proud to be able to represent Australia, and you want to help Australia win games. Thats what the drive was, no matter what format of the game it was, and so I just wanted to approach every game, no matter what format it was, with that attitude. Wanting to win for Australia."

Hussey's sudden retirement means Australia have lost two of their most experienced batsmen this summer, following Ricky Ponting's exit after the Perth Test against South Africa. The development will lead to a significant reshaping of Australia's middle order ahead of a tour to India and back-to-back Ashes. While many will fear for the immediate future of the Australian team without Hussey as the glue in its middle order, Hussey is adamant he will not be one of them.

"I'm not worried about the team at all," he said. "There's plenty of fantastic candidates to come into the team, and I'm sure whoever comes in will do a great job, score plenty of runs and help Australia win more Test matches in the future. It's shown in the history of the game that players come and go but the game continues on, and it'll be no different with me. There'll be a new player come in and represent Australia with the same pride and passion as I have."

That pride was personified in Hussey's role as the singer of the team song after a victory, a role handed down sparingly down the years from its origins with Rod Marsh. Others to have taken the role include Allan Border, David Boon, Ian Healy, Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer - rare company in which Hussey is most certainly not out of place.

"The opportunity to wear the baggy green cap is the proudest thing, and then to prove to myself and the world that I could perform with that cap on, that gives me enormous pride," Hussey said. "Then being able to play with some of the true legends of the game, guys like Warne and McGrath, Ponting, Hayden, Gilchrist etc, that makes me very proud I've been able to play with those guys, and lastly having the honour of leading the team song is something I'm very proud of as well."

CA chief executive James Sutherland said of Hussey: "Affectionately known as "Mr Cricket", he has always been thoroughly committed to meticulous preparation and the highest levels of physical fitness which have in turn delivered consistent performances in all forms of the game.

"An incredibly reliable player and leader within the Australian cricket team, Michael will retire from Test cricket with a record that puts him amongst the very best Australian batsmen of all time. Beyond his contributions to team success, he will be remembered for the way he has carried himself on and off the field - and in doing so he has won the respect and admiration of players, officials and fans all around the world."

Having made his ODI debut in February 2004, Hussey was belatedly awarded a Test cap in November 2005, having scored 15,313 runs at first-class level to earn it. He flirted with losing his place in the Test team during a dip in form during 2008 and 2009, but saved his place with a century in the final Ashes Test of that year, and went on to prove a pivotal component in the regeneration of the team under the captaincy of Michael Clarke.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Shridharan on January 1, 2013, 3:46 GMT

    Hats off to Michael Hussey on a great cricketing career!

  • V on December 31, 2012, 20:24 GMT

    It is a premature retirement surely! Especially when you are in a good nick! I am pretty sure the boss of Super Kings and BCCI is behind this. Australia's loss is CSK's gain and a possible India win in tests! Ha ha!!

  • Karthikeyan on December 31, 2012, 20:09 GMT

    PART 2 OF 2: This, and Sutcliffe's batting in tandem with other legends of his time, like Jack Hobbs, and Wally Hammond, (it's a real wonder what a little company at the crease can do), can explain why, his Test batting average (60.73) is marginally better than Hussey's. (51.52) Hussey, in contrast, had Ponting, Martyn, Symonds, Lehmann, & Clarke around him for most of his career. Also, the two have been the most prolific scorers of County Cricket on at least one occasion each. (Sutcliffe in 1932, and Hussey in 2001) Sutcliffe was part of a winning Yorkshire team in their famous 1922-24 hat-trick, while Hussey was there for WA on 2 back-to-back occasions between 1997-99. Although, it is not correct to compare two non-contemporaries at any time, but when you put Hussey's performances into context of a reference point like Sutcliffe, Hussey's prowess at scoring can be appreciated that much more. It also shows that he is really a colossus of the game, going by the startling statistics.

  • Karthikeyan on December 31, 2012, 20:06 GMT

    PART 1 OF 2: Michael Hussey is the Herbert Sutcliffe of Australian Cricket, in every way. Not only did their careers shared a similar path (they both started their Test careers at the ripe age of thirty, and they both scored a similar amount of runs before they reached that apex level. (Sutcliffe's 10,849 runs for Yorkshire, as opposed Hussey: 7632 runs for Western Australia (WA), and 6647 runs for Northants, Gloucs, and Durham combined, for a total of 14279 runs) Also, they both ended up with nearly identical first-class averages; Hussey's 52.44 to Sutcliffe's 52.02. And although, Hussey played 24 more tests than Sutcliffe, (they both had an almost identical number of test centuries under their belt; Sutcliffe's 16 to Hussey's 19), Sutcliffe batted in the first to third slots in all but one inning, and Hussey batted 73 of his 78 matches between the no. 4 and no. 7 slots, and only on five occasions did he bat in the upper order, which explains his 15 not outs, as against Sutcliffe's 9.

  • Peter on December 31, 2012, 14:25 GMT

    What Hussey has given to Australia over the past 7 years simply can't be measured. Apart from his stack of runs, he's been the ultimate professional and example to his team mates. He's the type of player who always went about his business without fuss, always showed humility, and was never scared to praise his opponents. As a cricketer, you couldn't wish for a better example to follow. Following on so quickly from Ponting's retirement, the young Aussie batsmen had better step up to the plate very quickly. With such an inexperienced batting line-up travelling to England next summer, their bowlers will have to bowl out of their skins to have any chance of regaining the Ashes.

  • Dummy4 on December 31, 2012, 11:31 GMT

    Mr. Cricket, you will be thoroughly missed, not just by the Aussies, but by the legion of cricket fans worldwide.Loved the several partnerships he crafted with Clarke. Still vividly remember his 60 off 24 against Pak in the World T20 2010 - how chuffed he was, how gutted the Pakis were! Truly, the greatest finisher in the game after Bevan and he was even better because he did it in all 3 formats, after make his debut at age 30.

  • vikram on December 31, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    Its Australian Cricket Board's fault that M Hussey is retiring a little early by not making M Hussey at least alternate captain after Clarke and Watson.....they had continuously ignored him for the highest post and not giving him enough appreciation even after he was 2nd most successful batsman in recent tours only after Clarke..........

  • Timothy on December 31, 2012, 1:55 GMT

    The talk about selecting Mr Cricket 5 years earlier into the Test side is too full of ifs and maybes. The most shocking selection blunder was not selecting him 5 months earlier- in England for the 2005 Ashes. His form in county cricket at the time was majestic (ave. 76 in 2005) and he had carried that into the preceding ODIs. Then when the Test series started revealing indifferent form for Martyn, Katich, Clarke, Hayden and Ponting, Hussey's presence in the batting lineup at the expense of, say, Katich or Martyn would have made all the difference in such a close fought series. Australia essentially lost the Ashes by the 2 run margin of the 2nd Test but MEK Hussey was averaging 123.3 after his debut Test series played only a few months later. Arguably Australia's greatest selection blunder ever cost us those Ashes.

  • Dummy4 on December 30, 2012, 18:34 GMT

    Classic players have their own class, they are good in setting new standards during their career and way too good in setting examples on how & when they retire. All the best mate, you are a real class player.

  • Asir on December 30, 2012, 16:30 GMT

    @IndiaRulesEverybody: That's so funny you don't know any name of BD batsmen but you still know names of Dravid and Laxman. If you can call someone who took 79 matches and 5 years to score his maiden ton as a God you might be someone who calls almost everyone you meet in life as a God or you might still have a hard time to differentiate God and goat.