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December 15, 2011
Michael Hussey has always been a diplomat. In school-yard terms you would describe him as the teacher's pet, always sitting at the front of class, answering every question as perfectly as he can, eager to please, keen to say and do the right things. But the question of scheduling a Twenty20 domestic tournament directly at odds with Australia's Test preparations for the Australia-India Tests had him stumped.
"It's a difficult one. I think . . . I think it's err . . . I think, I don't know what I think really." Hussey said in a confused tone. He knew what he wanted to say. He just had to word it as carefully as he could.
"I really want to be a part of the Test team," Hussey said with clarity. "I love the traditional Test matches like the Boxing Day Test and the New Year's Test. Obviously playing in my home Test match is really special as well. So, for me, that's the No.1 priority.
"With the amount of injuries that have been around the team in the last few months it does make you a little bit nervous that if you do have injuries to the Australian Test team, that we might be picking players that have only been playing Twenty20 cricket.
"It is maybe a small concern. But from a Twenty20 point of view it is the ideal time to be playing the game with school holidays on and trying to get as many new kids down to the ground. And it's important for us players to really engage with the young kids out there as well. It's probably not ideal. But we've just got to live with it."
That was as controversial a comment as you could get from Hussey. You could tell in his own mind he was wrestling with the concept of promoting the game to a wider audience, whilst protecting the integrity of its traditional form.
His Perth Scorcher team-mate Shaun Marsh is an example of an injured player possibly returning to the Test side through Twenty20 cricket.
Marsh, still battling a bulging disc in his back, was hopeful he could play in a Big Bash League fixture for Perth, in Melbourne on December 22, in order to prove his fitness for the Boxing Day Test. Whether such an audition will be enough was another question.
"I'm not too sure," Marsh said. "I guess it would give me the confidence if I got through that game, that I could play in a Test match. Obviously Twenty20 is pretty quick and it would be nice to spend a bit of time out in the middle, but like I said, I'm not a selector, I'm not too sure what they're thinking."
Switching from the shortest format to the longest version without any lead-in is not a new concept for Hussey. His sole preparation for Australia's two-test Tour of India in 2010 was to participate for Chennai Super Kings in the Champions League in South Africa. Chennai's success in that tournament forced Hussey into a more awkward situation than the present, which is a one-off outing for the Scorchers, against the Hobart Hurricanes at the WACA on Sunday, followed by the Boxing Day Test on December 26.
"For me personally it's only one game. We've had Test matches in Sri Lanka, South Africa, two Test matches against New Zealand so I think we're still, pretty much, in Test mode. I don't think one Twenty20 game will affect the preparation too much," Hussey said.
But he admitted it was not an easy task given his previous experiences.
"I found it tough playing Test match cricket, a few years ago, and then going straight to a Twenty20 tournament. It took me a good couple of weeks to fully adapt to Twenty20 mode from Test match mode. So I guess I'm not expecting any miracles out here on Sunday. As I said, I'll just go out there and enjoy it. If things go well, great, if not, I'm not going to lose any sleep over it."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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