Australia news March 14, 2013

Truth behind Hussey's retirement secret


Michael Hussey did not reveal his plans to retire at the end of the Australian summer until the week before the Sydney Test match because he feared he would have been summarily dropped from the team had he done so.

Australian cricket reeled with shock when Hussey announced his decision to finish playing the international game, and it is no secret the team hierarchy would have preferred to be informed further in advance. However Hussey told ESPNcricinfo that his secrecy had been partly about preserving his place until the right moment to finish.

"Partly why I didn't want to say anything to anyone was that I cherished every Test match I got to play and I really wanted to finish the Australian summer," Hussey said. "If I made it known earlier then perhaps they would start looking ahead earlier and not play me in my last couple of Tests. That was a small selfish part of it that I really wanted to finish when I wanted to finish. I didn't want them to say 'you're going to retire, we'll blood someone else'.

"Most of it though was making sure I was 100% sure about the decision. I wanted to make sure in myself, I wanted to see how I felt through the Australian summer, and my feelings certainly didn't change. When I started looking ahead to what was coming up I knew I was going to find it really tough."

Hussey's suspicions proved well-founded, for his announcement was followed by his omission from the limited overs squads to see out the summer, though he remained available for selection throughout.

Watching the India series on TV, Hussey has admitted he isn't missing the trials currently being faced by Michael Clarke's team. He also said it would be some time yet before the team's culture settles into the sort of strong and assured environment he first walked into as a Test match debutant in Brisbane in 2005. Crucial to this, Hussey said, was the retention of a settled, stable team.

"The thing about that team is it didn't really change much for probably a 10-year period, so they got to know each other extremely well, like brothers," Hussey said. "The environment now will get back to that I'm sure, but it just takes time.

"There's been so much change and upheaval in Australian cricket over the last year or so, changing of coaches and selectors, players have come out of the team and new players have come in. So you've got to expect it will take time for trust to build up, friendships to build, the hard times, the good times together, it all builds the culture over a period of time."

In a career-spanning interview, Hussey also spoke about the time he felt his career came closest to an early end, before the 2010-11 Ashes series in which he was to be Australia's leading scorer. Compelled to play in the Champions League for Chennai Super Kings, Hussey was left with only two days to prepare for a Test match against India in Chandigarh, and actively fought Cricket Australia's decision to keep him in South Africa.

"I was really disappointed, because I was desperate to get there," he said. "My understanding was that the Test tour starts when the team flies out of Australia, and they weren't allowing me to leave South Africa where the Champions League was, until literally a couple of days before the Test.

"India's a tough place to play at the best of times, and if you don't have very good preparation going into it, you're not going to perform well, and I think looking back it was close to costing me my career. I came back into the Australian summer where again I felt under enormous pressure if I didn't start the summer well I could've been out of the team.

"I had one Shield game in Adelaide where I got 0 and 1, and in Melbourne I got a duck in the first innings and thankfully managed to get some runs in the second innings. If that had been the end, and one of the reasons why I was left out, because I wasn't able to prepare properly, I would've been one pretty dirty because I couldn't give my best to the team, but angry that it would've cost me my career."

Hussey gave Clarke credit for the way he had shaped the team over the past two years, but said that Ricky Ponting was the best captain he played under. He also revealed he had held his own leadership ambitions for a time, frustrated that his record of four losses in as many stand-in ODI appearances does not indicate what he might have done with a more lasting commission.

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ryan on March 17, 2013, 8:58 GMT

    Every word said by Hussey about his "shock" retirement makes perfect sense based on the current incompetence of the Australian selection panel. I am one of the majority of fans who believe that Hussey has never been and is not selfish. In a nutshell, Hussey says that if you are not 100% committed to representing your country on the big stage (in any sport), your performance can suffer significantly as a result. The fact he has 4 children (one born prematurely last June) currently under 10 years of age is a more than justifiable reason to retire when he did, and his performances against South Africa and Sri Lanka this past Australian summer show that he was able to go out on his own terms and while on top, rather than being remembered as a fantastic player who stayed on too long. Most consistent player across all 3 forms of international cricket, whose presence will be sorely missed by many Aussie fans (myself included) for many years to come.

  • Phillip on March 15, 2013, 14:52 GMT

    @HatsforBats-Fair enough.Im not against any of his achievements. All Im against is this home farewell brouhaha.Lets consider some other honourable ways to leave shall we-

    Gritting it out at Delhi to draw/win/lose gracefully with Huss going out as a true legend. Doing the same at the Oval 2013. Quitting in Sydney itself;not Sydney 2013 but Sydney 2014.

    FYI a chap called Bradman played his FAREWELL test at the Oval;miles away from home.If anyone deserved a home farewell it was him.He could have even boosted his average above 100 if he played at home.However his timing was perfect for the team.

  • Chris on March 15, 2013, 5:45 GMT

    sad reflection of the current state of aussie cricket, can't imagine recent events (homeworkgate) will improve this situation. unfortunate one of the greats of the last decade felt the need to resort to these tactics to end his career on his own terms. suppose when a side is on the way down celebrating a players career is no longer seen as important.

  • Dummy4 on March 15, 2013, 5:18 GMT

    Pathetic and pitiful reasoning there by Hussey. 100s against South Africa in Brisbane & Adelaide? As if he was going to be dropped after those performances, give the selectors and the Australian public something more logical Huss like Greg Chappell's 1983 excuse of a lack of enthusiasm(or the truthful reason that he didn't really like the captaincy style of Michael Clarke which is markedly similar to that of Kim Hughes!!)

  • Patrick on March 15, 2013, 2:57 GMT

    He was right and he would know more than anyone how clueless the current 'heirarchy' have become. Onya Huss.

  • Kush on March 15, 2013, 2:47 GMT

    Mike Hussey had become one of my favorite batsmen in the last 5 years. He has had a pretty unique career making his debut at 30 and then achieving more and having greater impact than most. He debuted towards the end of the careers of the legends (Hayden, Gilchrist, McGrath, Warne) and slotted in seamlessly with them and along with Ponting and Clarke became the bridge that extended Australia's run at the top longer than it otherwise would have. I cannot think of any other batsman who debuted at 30 and had such a huge impact. Go well into the sunset Mike Hussey.

  • Andrew on March 15, 2013, 1:02 GMT

    @Mervin John - the 05 series revolved around a lot more than what if Huss & Hodge played. England played very well in that series & Oz didn;t recover from the McGrath injuries as well as they should of - mainly due to the surprisingly rapid decline of Dizzy. At the end of the day it is supposition as to whether either of those two batsmen would of changed events - bearing in mind that a) Oz won the 1st test & there was no real reason to change the batting order until towards the very end of the series. Both countries have often been reluctant to blood a debutant in an Ashes series as well. The only genuinely vulnerable batsmen in that series was Clarke - so there was no way that at the time Oz would of put two debutants into the batting line up - its just revisionary fantasy!

  • Raj on March 14, 2013, 23:35 GMT

    Good timing of the article and in so many words Hussey is saying is playing for Australia had become less enjoyable towards the end and the (dressing room) atmosphere was not so warm and cohesive. Going forward the penalties would far outweigh the rewards. Hence he took the decision to retire abruptly.

  • subhalkar on March 14, 2013, 23:12 GMT

    @ Goutham Shenoy sir, your criticism seem to be unfair about his being not out to boost average. Gilchrist played 137 innings and NO 20 times. Hussey played 136 innings and NO 16 times. England's Ian Bell played 144 innings with 20 NO. Most players have similar figures. Some even have more NO like Border and Steve Waugh and Chanderpaul. To me he is a dependable player all the time.I think his comment is subtly saying how things are with CA.

  • kieran on March 14, 2013, 22:00 GMT

    @B.C.G. You are clutching at straws mate. That Ashes series was 1-1 going in to the fifth test. Did they redefine the meaning of 'long gone'? Lets get this straight: you are criticising Hussey for scoring a half century at Lords (the only 50+ score in the innings) and for scoring a century in the fourth innings of the deciding match of the series. I never mentioned 'great' but Michael Hussey would have to be one of the must respected and effective players this country has produced.