Superhero Hussey returns
For the first three years of Michael Hussey's Test career he was the side's superhero, achieving unimaginable results with the swing of his bat. After an extended stint as a mortal he reprised the role at the SCG to set up Australia's astonishing 36-run win.
Hussey has scored two of the side's past three centuries, with the 134 not out in Sydney following the 121 when the urn was handed back in London, but those innings carried distinctly different emotions. "The last time I scored a hundred we lost the Ashes," he said. "I can tell you I feel a whole lot better now than I did on that particular day."
In six Tests including The Oval he has 604 runs at 60.40, ending the short-term doubts over his place in the side. He has often looked scratchy for long periods, but has shown how much he likes to scrap. Hussey does not want to hand over his hard-won position and while he was making many ugly runs - and some old-style Hussey ones, particularly with drives through the off side - the selection trapdoor was moved under Marcus North.
"It has been a little bit more difficult leading up to this season," Hussey said. "I felt like I've had the complete support of the captain, the coaches, so it was a case of me going away and concentrating on preparing my game and scoring runs. Just trying to do the business for the team."
In the first innings Hussey was the most capable batsman, sweating over 28 during the extremely difficult phase, and over the final two days he refused to bend. Hussey's stand of 123 with Peter Siddle kept Australia breathing on the fourth morning and was ultimately responsible for the stunning success.
"As I said to Siddle tonight, his batting has won us a Test match, along with this bloke [Hussey] as well," Ricky Ponting said. "For them to do what they did today, it takes a lot of courage and it takes a lot of discipline."
Hussey has grown wiser in his four years as a Test batsman and can fashion runs on days when the fluency of his early days is hiding. He knows his scoring areas whatever the field and today he drove strongly through the offside for four off the fast and slow men. A shot straight down the ground off Umar Gul took Hussey to an 11th century, his first in Australia since the opening week of 2008.
"Today made me realise how hard [Test centuries] are," he said. "I had my fair share of luck and you probably need a fair share of luck and you need someone like Siddle to show that much courage and application for such a long period of time to be able to get to a Test century. Every single one you try and cherish as much as you can."
As calm as he looks and as measured as he speaks, Hussey has been feeling the strain, particularly after his first nine hundreds flooded in three glorious years. He wanted to start celebrating this one at the end of his first run, but the ball was not certain of reaching the rope so he stuck up one arm like a kite flyer at take-off and continued to sprint. When the boundary was confirmed he jumped skyward before finding Siddle for a cuddle. In the background Kamran Akmal clapped his hands together, making similar sounds to the ones created by his three drops of Hussey off Danish Kaneria on the third day.
"I was fortunate in this game but you need some fortune," Hussey said. "I felt in the last 12 months a lot of fortune hadn't really gone my way. In this game it has and thankfully I was able to reap the rewards and get to a position where we had the chance to win."
Hussey, who is good at forgetting moments of discomfort, was not bothered by anything that Pakistan did on the fourth morning. After resuming on 73, he was pleased that Mohammad Yousuf set most of his fielders on the boundary, giving him a single whenever he wanted it. As Hussey's confidence in Siddle grew there was even less fear in taking the run and increasing the lead, which began the day at 80 and finished on an unconquerable 175.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo