An all-format specialist
An unbeaten 27 in his final innings might not have been the perfect farewell for Michael Hussey but it symbolised what he meant to the team in more ways than one. Since he made his Test debut in November 2005, Hussey has been the rock of the Australian middle order in all formats. Despite a terrific record in first-class cricket, he made a late breakthrough into the Australian team because of the extraordinary strength of the squad in the early 2000s. Almost instantly, he made it count by scoring two centuries in his first three Tests against West Indies. However, his best performance came against South Africa in the Boxing Day Test in 2005, when he partnered Glenn McGrath and added 107 runs for the last wicket after Australia had been reduced to 248 for 9. For nearly three years, Hussey maintained an 80-plus average but suffered a dip in form between 2008 and 2010, when it dropped below 50 briefly. In Australia's dismal home Ashes in 2010-11, Hussey was by far the best batsman. He continued his superb run through the last two years and pushed his average past the 50 mark by scoring eight centuries in his final 25 Tests.
Although Hussey scored over 6000 Test runs, he was a more formidable batsman at home. In 45 Tests in Australia, he scored 3794 runs at an average of 61.13 with 14 centuries. His average is the third highest among all Australian batsmen who have scored 3500-plus runs at home. Outside Australia though, Hussey was not as effective. In 34 matches, he scored only five centuries at an average of 41.37. Hussey also proved to be extremely consistent in Test wins; in 48 victories, he averaged 61.20 with 12 hundreds. Hussey had a particularly good run in Hobart and Sydney, where he averaged 101.40 and 94.00 respectively. However, he struggled in Tests at the MCG, averaging just 29.71 in 14 innings.
Between his debut in late 2005 and the end of 2007, Hussey was exceptionally consistent. In 19 matches, he scored nearly 2000 runs at an average of 80.58 with seven centuries. This run included two centuries against West Indies and Sri Lanka and one each against England and South Africa. Although he scored six of his seven centuries in this period at home, he maintained an average of 71.28 in away matches. But after this great start to his Test career, Hussey endured a slump for nearly two years. Between 2008 and the final Ashes Test in 2009, Hussey averaged just 34.10 in 22 Tests (two centuries).
He salvaged his career with a century at The Oval before going on to score a fortuitous but vital century at the SCG to upstage Pakistan. In the 2010-11 Ashes, Hussey scored a superb 195 in Brisbane and added another century in the third Test in Perth. He also top scored in the series in Sri Lanka, with 463 runs in the three Tests. Hussey went through another bad patch after the Sri Lanka series, making just 83 runs in eight innings before turning it around with 89 and 150 against India. In six Tests played during the 2012 Australian summer, Hussey scored 527 runs at an average of 65.87 with three centuries.
Throughout his career, Hussey remained a dominant batsman at home. His excellent record in Australia is reflected in his stats against the top teams. Against England, Hussey played ten home Tests and averaged 73.42 (three centuries). However, he struggled in England, averaging just 34.50 in five Tests (one century). His performance against India was more even, although it was still marginally better in home Tests. Surprisingly, he did not enjoy a good run against New Zealand both home and away. In six Tests against New Zealand, Hussey failed to score a single century and averaged just 24.55. Hussey's pattern of home dominance is reflected in his record against Pakistan and West Indies too. He had a tough time against South Africa, especially in away matches, averaging just 32.07. However, against Sri Lanka, Hussey was terrific home and away. He scored five centuries against them and maintained an exceptional average of 110.44 in eight Tests. His average against Sri Lanka is the fourth-best among all batsmen who have scored at least 750 runs against a particular opposition.
Hussey had a higher average in the first innings (55.12) as compared to the second innings (45.87). Fourteen of his 19 centuries came in the first innings. In both the first and second innings of matches, he scored seven centuries each and averaged 50.90 and 60.96 respectively. However, in the third innings, his average dropped to 43.62 (four centuries). Hussey did score one century in the final innings (average 52.41) but it came in defeat at The Oval in 2009.
In 64 partnerships Hussey shared with Michael Clarke, the pair aggregated 3372 runs at an average of 55.27 with nine century stands. Four of the nine century stands (three 200-plus stands) were in 2012, with the highest being an unbroken 334 against India in Sydney. Hussey also had a fruitful association with Ricky Ponting, adding over 2000 runs at an average of 53.06 (seven century stands).
|Opposition||Home (Matches/Runs)||Home (Avg/100)||Away (Matches/Runs)||Away (Avg/100)||Overall (matches/runs)||Overall (avg/100)|
Pace bowlers were far more successful against Hussey, accounting for 83 of his 138 dismissals (bowler dismissals only). While he averaged 45.71 against the fast bowlers, Hussey did much better against spinners, averaging 69.65. He struggled more against left-arm quicks (14 dismissals at 28.07). His average is nearly 50 against right-arm fast bowlers and jumps to 76 against right-arm spinners.
Given his issues against South Africa, it is no surprise that Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn have dismssed Hussey most often. Against both bowlers, he had very low averages and balls-per-dismissal values. Against Zaheer Khan, who has dismissed Hussey five times, the average (32.60) and balls-per-dismissal (59) are higher. Graeme Swann and James Anderson, who have dismissed Hussey four and three times respectively, have high averages (63.75 and 71.33) and strike rates (118.2 and 141.3).
|Bowler||Innings||Dismissals||Average||Scoring rate||Balls per dismissal|
Right from the beginning of his career, Hussey remained a brilliant performer in ODIs. Among Australian batsmen who have scored 5000-plus ODI runs, he has the second highest average (48.15). Not only did Hussey maintain a high average, he also had an excellent strike rate of 87.16. In contrast to Tests, where he was a better player at home, in ODIs he had a better record outside Australia. In matches played at home, he averaged 47 at a strike rate of 86.04. All three of his centuries came outside Australia. Both his average (48.92) and strike rate (87.89) in away and neutral games were better than the corresponding numbers in home ODIs.
Against top teams (all Test teams excluding Bangladesh and Zimbabwe), Hussey averaged 46.71 and scored two of his three centuries. He proved disappointing in global tournaments though; in nine innings in the World Cup, he scored just 156 runs at an average of 19.50 with one half-century. Although he did better in the Champions Trophy, his average of 38 was well below his career figure. Hussey scored over 1000 runs in the Australian tri-series (CB series) at an average just over 40.
|against top teams||162||4812||46.71/86.56||2/35|
|CB series (Aus tri-series)||42||1010||40.40/83.47||0/6|
With a 45-plus average and 85-plus strike rate, Hussey is part of an elite group in ODIs. Among batsmen with over 5000 runs and a 45-plus average, AB de Villiers has the best strike rate (93.15) followed by Viv Richards (90.20). Hussey, who has the fourth-best strike rate, is also fourth in terms of average behind Michael Bevan, MS Dhoni and de Villiers. In the first innings, Hussey has an average close to 50 and a strike rate of 92.16. In contrast, his second innings average and strike rate drop to 42.75 and 73.12. Michael Clarke and Bevan, the two other Australian players in the group, have done much better than Hussey in chases though Clarke's average in the first innings (41.38) is signifcantly lower than that of Hussey.
* Batsmen with top six strike rates only
|Batsman||Runs/avg||SR||100/50||Avg/SR (bat first)||100/50 (bat first)||Avg/SR (chases)||100/50 (chases)|
|AB de Villiers||5168/49.21||93.15||13/29||46.12/96.75||9/12||52.89/89.68||4/17|
For a batsman who had quite a successful Test career, it is perhaps ironic that his best-remembered innings is likely to be one played in the Twenty20 format. In the 2010 World Twenty2- semi-final, Hussey produced a stunning assault on the Pakistan bowlers scoring 60 off just 24 balls to snatch a near-impossible win. In a format where it is extremely challenging to maintain both a high average and strike rate, Hussey stands out. Among batsmen with 500-plus runs, Hussey has the highest average (35.94) followed closely by Kevin Pietersen (35.93). Remarkably, Hussey also has the third-best strike rate (136.25) after Chris Gayle and Pietersen.
Madhusudhan Ramakrishnan is a sub-editor (stats) at ESPNcricinfo