Australian cricket October 2, 2013

The thoughts of Michael Hussey

ESPNcricinfo staff
A few excerpts from Michael Hussey's autobiography, Underneath the Southern Cross, with his thoughts on the Sheffield Shield, team selection, and more

On the captain as a selector: It affects relationships between the players on the fringe and the captain. You become more guarded in the dressing room. Michael Clarke is watching how I prepare, how I am in here, and that might impact my selection. I noticed, during that period, that when Michael was around, everyone went a bit quieter and kept their head down. It's not a comfortable feeling; people aren't being themselves. Overall, I just felt that it drove a wedge between the players and their leader, and it wasn't fair to either side.

On the Sheffield Shield: Another area I was concerned about was the rush to get teenagers and other youngsters into first-class cricket. I thought the Sheffield Shield should be hard and uncompromising, not a finishing school. If you start playing youngsters who aren't quite good enough yet, it will lower the standards and intensity and make the jump to Test level so much bigger. I opposed any concerted push to get rid of guys in their late twenties and early thirties. We're all formed by our own experiences, and I was living proof that you could start playing Test cricket at 30 and still have a long career.

On the lead-up to the World Twenty20 in 2012: The batters were sat down before the first game [in Dubai] and told, 'We want to stick with this batting order for the foreseeable future. We want you guys to have the confidence to go out there and play for the team. You're not under pressure to keep your wickets.' I thought that was fantastic to know. Put the team first, yourself last - a brilliant philosophy. So we played the first two games, and then my brother Dave was dropped. I said to George, 'What happened to the philosophy of sticking by guys and giving them a long run?' He said, 'Yeah, I know, but we're not sure of what our best team is.' Suddenly they'd dropped one of our best players after two games. We were all under pressure. I could understand they weren't sure about what was the best team, but saying one thing and doing the other created some doubt among the players.

On Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus missing the 2012 Perth Test against South Africa: As a member of the team I was bewildered. Different rationales were coming out all the time. First I was hearing they were exhausted and couldn't recover in time. The next day, the story was that they had injury niggles. Then I heard a third version, which was that they'd been dropped. I didn't know what was going on.