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Hussey raised concerns about team culture

Daniel Brettig

October 2, 2013

Comments: 52 | Text size: A | A

Michael Hussey prepares for his final Test, Sydney, January 2, 2012
Michael Hussey was troubled with the direction the Australian team was taking © AFP
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Michael Hussey has revealed he arranged a formal meeting with former Australia coach, Mickey Arthur, to express concern about the direction and culture of the Australian team as early as the West Indies tour in 2012, and also conceded that his concerns hastened thoughts of retirement. During the Caribbean trip, on which the tourists won the Test series 2-0, Hussey met with Arthur to outline his worries about the way the team was progressing, foreshadowing the dire results that would occur in India and England following his retirement.

A few of Hussey's points of trouble included the development of an insular team environment where players looked out for themselves and their own positions rather than pulling together for the team, and also the emergence of a tense, unhelpful atmosphere in the dressing room. In his autobiography, Underneath the Southern Cross, Hussey writes that he did not feel his concerns were adequately addressed.

"While I was in the West Indies, I became concerned at a deeper level about how I was enjoying being in the team," Hussey wrote. "My view was always that in cricket you have to be genuinely happy for your team-mates' success. If it wasn't happening, was it the team culture or was it just a few players? I was a bit nervous about that, and organised a meeting with Mickey.

"I sat down with him and and got all my concerns out in the open. 'We need to foster a culture that makes them want to think about other people and play for the team,' I said. 'Get them out of [that] insular thinking and bring in team activities. It's about caring for each other. There's too much insular thinking; about number one only.'

"Did Mickey see it as something that could be improved? In our chat, I don't think anything I said went in. Mickey definitely listened, but he was in tunnel vision mode too. He had specific things he wanted to focus on, and anything from left field didn't register. I walked away from the meeting thinking I was glad to have got it off my chest, but it didn't go anywhere.

"It was understandable how Mickey had his specific plans, and Michael [Clarke] too, but for me it was a big early warning sign that this team had problems ahead of it. We were fostering an environment where guys only cared about their positions and didn't think about the team. The dressing room became just as stressful and tense as [it was] out in the middle. It should be a sanctuary, where you can let go and have a joke with your team-mates. Our dressing room wasn't relaxed or calm, or conducive to good play. I didn't enjoy that tension, and I'm sure some of the guys weren't enjoying it."

Through the period of Clarke's captaincy and Arthur's coaching tenure, Hussey enjoyed some of the best run-scoring form of his career, but his memoir is dotted with instances of reservations about the direction the team was taking, particularly due to several of the dictates of the Argus review. Hussey also recalls how Clarke's position as a selector, a post he has now relinquished, created an atmosphere in which players were fearful of consequences should they put a single step wrong in the dressing room.

Issues with the Australian team's direction and the attitudes of individual players were to bubble to the surface in India earlier this year following Hussey's international retirement. His earlier worries were borne out in the homework saga, David Warner's misbehaviour during the Champions Trophy in England, and the sacking of Arthur immediately before the Ashes.

Michael Hussey's autobiography, Underneath the Southern Cross, is out this week.

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by popcorn on (October 5, 2013, 1:33 GMT)

What Team Culture is this Mike Hussey talking about? Where is HIS contribution to Team Spirit? Is HE a Team man? Here is a man who SUDDENLY announced his retirement citing reasons of being away from his family far too long because of International Cricket OUTSIDE Australia - we were depending upon him to be part of The Ashes Squad to England. He left us in the lurch, making us run helter -skelter for a PROVEN Number 6,but could not find one in time for The Ashes in England. No wonder we lost. And here he is, away from his family for several months playing the IPL and Champions League in India just to make money. Where is your family Hussey? You will recall he chose to play in the Champions League in South Africa just before our Test Tour to India in 2010,had ZERO preparation for Test Cricket,consequently fared poorly against India and let us down again!

Posted by Beertjie on (October 4, 2013, 21:13 GMT)

My sentiments, entirely, @Waddle on (October 2, 2013, 15:35 GMT). Great to read it from an England supporter! I'd take a drawn series much like '72 when Chappelli got that result as a precursor to regaining the Ashes two years later. It's tough to bear and patience has never been an easily obtained virtue. Don't know about you, @willsrustynuts on (October 2, 2013, 15:36 GMT), but as a 60-something I'm afraid I won't see a future Warne, McGrath and Tugga in my lifetime!

Posted by landl47 on (October 4, 2013, 13:43 GMT)

Interesting to hear David Brumby's comments, but (no offence) I take Mike Hussey's views rather more seriously than Mr. Brumby's. I think Mickey Arthur had some very strange ideas as coach which affected Clarke's role as captain. I like Clarke's on-field captaincy and with Lehmann in charge perhaps the off-field stuff will change as well.

However, unless Australia can find some young batsmen, there are problems ahead no matter who is captain or coach. The young bowlers also need to do more; Harris and Siddle carried the bowling in England. Injuries are a big issue, with Starc and Cummins out for the Summer and Pattinson a long way from full fitness. The average age of the Aussie side is already higher than England's, which is not a sign of a team which is rebuilding, but one which is hanging on.

Australia will come back, they always do. At the moment, though, the next few years look as though they will be difficult.

Posted by AKS286 on (October 4, 2013, 10:15 GMT)

I think with the problems like- Lost Test ranking, Odi ranking, T20 foolishness, Senior axing, dispute in the team, divided the team, poor performance,retirement of Great Punter, Hussey, Katich, performers becomes the replacement of non-performers, discouraging talents, off the field tension, No discipline, No respect for seniors, ego problem, arrogant, unorganized structure, ETC---- Kindly tell me who is the real cancer of team? Current captain or any another ?

Posted by AKS286 on (October 4, 2013, 8:43 GMT)

The day he became captain Australia & players facing problem. He is a good test player but a very poor bad captain. For the better future of Cricket in Aus Kindly axe him as a captain, And make Smith, Haddin,Watson or Bailey as a captain they are more from Legacy era of Punter. And also throw out Bad captain's men like Hughes, Warner, Wade, Lyon, Cowan, Starc. Test squad- Klinger, Finch, Marsh, Clarke, Watson(VC), Smith, Haddin (C), Johnson, Siddle, Pattinson, Beer/Boyce. ODI- Finch(VC), Watson, Marsh, Smith (C), Bailey, Haddin, Moises, Johnson, Mckay, Harris, Beer. T20- Finch(C), Watson, White, Marsh, Smith, Voges(VC), Ludeman, Faulkner, Johnson, Cutting, Beer

Posted by Insult_2_Injury on (October 4, 2013, 5:36 GMT)

Stephen Connell.

Arthur had to have multiple plans in place for injured players prior to the Ashes, so if he couldn't counteract the unavailability of one batsman, then Arthur's sacking was overdue.

Isn't it just possible in light of the above admission by Hussey that he was giving time to Arthur & Clarke to consider his observations of inside the squad? Obviously when he realised it had fallen on deaf ears he had to consider his own position and potential to the team, with the mind set he had.

Surely if he was as pivotal as you say, then maybe his experience should have been considered, rather than ignored.

As far as I'm concerned I applaud him on an excellent and professional career and wish him well. I believe he'll be a better mentor in the future than Arthur & Clarke combined.

Posted by   on (October 3, 2013, 21:51 GMT)

In hindsight one can see why Mike did what he did. The problem is, ironically, did Mike do what was best for Australia or what was best for Mike?

Posted by   on (October 3, 2013, 14:24 GMT)

@ShutTheGate I dont think so. None of them seemed to confident they would play at all. Cummins certainly not. They said was only slim chance Starc and Pattinson would be able to play in last test or so.

Posted by Charlie101 on (October 3, 2013, 13:52 GMT)

@ Stephen Connell I have heard from an England team player who described Mike Hussey as " the nicest of men" and was extremely sorry for him that he had to keep his retirement plans secret . The reason for that is that Clarke who was a selector at the time would not have picked him if his plans had been announced and therefore MH could not have retired on his own terms.

Posted by   on (October 3, 2013, 13:31 GMT)

The observations reveal that Clarke fiddle around the batting order to suit his GAME and in this process he destroyed the position held by others and others were put in deep pressure to perform at a altered batting order. The number of people against one man suggest that he is an AUTOCRATIC, may be conceited in power, its not the quality of player that makes a team CHAMPION, its the quality of your leader, look at the examples from past: WAUGH, PONTING, in present: COOK, DHONI. You don't have to be boss to make your team mates performing you got to be their friend so that they can be open with you, so far no news, no story, no interviews, no photos suggest this about CLARKE. May be he should change or leave. Whichever is done sooner the better for Australia & world cricket as a whole because world cricket wants a strong, competitive AUSTRALIAN TEAM. No one is happy seeing AUSTRALIA this way , we are sad.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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