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April 13, 2011
Michael Hussey has made his pitch to be part of Australian cricket's difficult next phase - and backed it up with a consummate century in the final one-day match against Bangladesh in Mirpur.
Following his storming effort to regain his fitness in time to play some part in Australia's World Cup campaign, 35-year-old Hussey has no intention of stepping aside ahead of Test tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa later this year, and demonstrated his drive by cracking 108 from 91 balls against Bangladesh. It was his first ODI century since February 2007 against New Zealand. Before the match, Hussey had spoken of his desire to keep playing, and of the need for him, Ricky Ponting and Simon Katich to remain in the Test side as senior batsmen.
"Initially I wanted to play in the World Twenty20, and then the Ashes and the 50-over World Cup, those were my goals, and then go from there," Hussey said. "But I'm really enjoying my cricket for Australia, I feel like I'm still playing well, so while I feel like I'm enjoying being around the team and contributing to the team I definitely want to continue.
"It took me so long to get one game, over 10 years I think, so I want to try to play as many games as I possibly can. And I want to help the new guys coming in. We've got a nice blend I think at the moment of some experienced players and also some really young guys that are in, and I definitely see a bit of a role to play there in trying to help those guys adapt to international cricket, because it is tough work.
"I think having Ricky in the team is absolutely essential. He's definitely one of the best batsmen in the world and in Australia, and I think we need to be playing our best, best players."
While Ponting has been inspired by Sachin Tendulkar's second wind, Hussey also made note of Rahul Dravid's latter days as a source of succour. "For me personally, and I know Ricky as well, we've got a lot of inspiration out of watching guys like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid who have played so well in the last couple of years even being in their mid-30s," Hussey said. "I've got a lot of inspiration from those guys, and I try not to take too much notice of what's being said externally, I just try to concentrate on whether I can play a role for the team, whether I'm still enjoying it, whether I'm still contributing enough to the team.
"And if all those things are adding up then that's what I take most notice of. I've never toured Sri Lanka before, so certainly another goal of mine is to play in that country and try to do well. Because it's something I've not been able to achieve in international cricket."
The hamstring tear that saw Hussey cut from the initial World Cup squad provided him with a searching test of his regenerative powers. But the success of his rehab provided a strong indicator that Hussey's flesh remains as willing as his spirit. "I haven't had too many injuries throughout my career, but the injuries I have had, I've been lucky to be able to recover reasonably quickly, so hopefully that continues.
"I obviously don't want to have too many more injuries but it certainly does make you more aware of your body and more aware of making sure your recovery and rehab in between games and training and stuff. I'm more diligent with it now than I was in my mid-20s."
Greg Chappell, the national talent manager and selector, said Hussey, Ponting and Katich would remain "viable" options as long as they contributed runs and expertise. "I don't think we have to send any message to them,'' Chappell told the Age. ''They are mature cricketers, they know what the landscape is and they can't play forever. As long as they can bring something to the table, not only the runs or wickets, but the input they can have with the group, they are viable, but at some stage they won't be, that is just a fact of life. Nobody can put a time limit on it because nobody knows, you are continually monitoring the situation as a selector and when you feel there is a need for change you make change."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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