Hussey races to secure thrilling century
Test batting looks too easy when Michael Hussey is doing it. While Phil Jaques set the base on another rampaging day for Australia, Hussey constructed the walls during a thrilling race to his century, which he achieved with four balls remaining in the day.
As the Sri Lanka attack tired, Hussey took charge and smacked 81 in the final session as Australia finished at 3 for 329. He started to sprint once Jaques fell for 150, but it was only with four overs to go that reaching three figures became a possibility.
"I didn't think I was going to get there," he said. "I was 82 and didn't think I was a chance. When I hit two fours off Lasith Malinga I thought maybe I'm a silly chance. It was probably only in the last two overs I thought about it."
A couple of boundaries from Farveez Maharoof moved him to 96 and meant he could reach the target as long as he remained in control and was given the strike by Michael Clarke. There were a couple of nervous moments as he tried to force the pace, but he eased the stress of a night in the nineties with a crisp pull and finished on 101 not out.
"I'd be lying if I said it didn't worry me," Hussey said. "The crowd was geeing me up and clapping each ball. I was trying to put it out of my mind, but was keen to get there. The pitch was so good, I was in and I felt pretty good. Maybe I took a couple of unnecessary risks at the end, but I was delighted to get through."
A pull was a suitable shot for the milestone as he had taken advantage of the short bowling throughout the innings. He struck 15 fours, including a string of crisp cover drives, during his 173-ball stay and it was his seventh century in 18 matches. The incredible record includes a live average of 87.19.
"I've convinced myself it's going to come down at some stage, but I'm happy to keep it like this for as long as possible," he said. "I just want to enjoy it while it's lasting and keep a level keel, not get too excited when things are going well, or too low when they're not going well."
Hussey's back-to-back centuries were matched by Phil Jaques and his former mentor Trevor Bayliss is finding him impossible to tame. "As his coach over the past ten years, especially the last three in first-class cricket, he gave me a few heart flutters and the opposition a few chances," Bayliss said. "In the last two innings he's still giving me heart flutters even though he's in the opposition.
"He's been a lot more selective in the way he's played in the last two matches, cutting out the riskier shots and making it a difficult package to get out. He fully deserves his success."
Jaques felt more relaxed after getting through a tough first hour, when the Sri Lankans "bowled a couple of balls that I wouldn't have hit in a hundred years". "I wanted to back myself and show a bit more intent," he said. "I could express myself better and it worked out pretty good."
After posting 100 in Brisbane, he continued his liking for neat scores. "I really wanted to make a big hundred today and really cash in," he said. Was 150 enough? "It's never enough. I have to learn from it and cash in next time."
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo