'Playing every game like it is my last' - David Hussey
David Hussey has been dropped and recalled from Australia's one-day team so many times that he treats every innings as his last. It's an approach that worked during Sunday's win over India at the MCG, where he made an important unbeaten 61. It's also a method that he hopes can carry him through until the 2015 World Cup, which he believes is a realistic goal despite his age.
Hussey will be 37 by then, but he wants to make himself such an indispensable part of the side that John Inverarity's selection panel cannot help but keep picking him. Inverarity said in selecting the squad for the start of the Commonwealth Bank Series that the focus would switch more towards World Cup planning over the next year, which could mean the phasing out of older players. At 34, Hussey is in that bracket.
But he has played only 40 one-day internationals and is desperate to keep adding to that tally, and still dreams of winning a baggy green. He hopes that if he can carry his form through the tri-series and help Australia win the tournament he can show that he has plenty left to offer, after he was part of the Australia squad that was knocked out in the quarter-finals of last year's World Cup.
"You want to be in a winning World Cup, it's probably second to playing Test cricket for Australia," Hussey said. "It is realistic [playing in 2015]. I want to keep doing well. If you keep doing well you give the selectors a hard task to make that phone call to say you're not in the team. If I keep doing well and contributing to the team's success, you just never know. It's very hard to drop someone from a series win."
Being dropped is something Hussey knows all too much about. Since he made his ODI debut nearly four years ago, he has been in and out of the side. But his recent form is good. Since being recalled last summer he has averaged 44.77 with the bat and has picked up 11 wickets at 21.18. It's the sort of form most ODI players would be thrilled with, but Hussey is still wary of how quickly things can change.
"Every innings is like the last innings for me," he said. "Hopefully I can contribute to team success and you never know, if your name pops up at the right time you might get that chance of playing Test cricket. I love playing for Australia and I've probably been dropped 14 times now - I don't want to be dropped again. At the moment I'm really enjoying it, playing every game like it is my last. It's working so far.
"[Being dropped is] one of those things, you spit the dummy for a day or two, offload on your wife and get back on the horse. What keeps you going is that goal of playing for Australia. You dust yourself off and get back out there.
"The body is healthy and I'm batting as well as I ever have. Hopefully that does continue. I still feel as fresh as ever and I love playing the game. I want to keep going. Playing for Australia is the pinnacle and I still harbour hopes of playing Test cricket. If I do well in the one-day arena you never know, a few doors may open."
There's also the desire not to be outshone by the newer members of the side. Hussey's Victoria team-mate Matthew Wade has made a strong start to his international career and Peter Forrest is expected to be given an opportunity in one of the next two games. The mix of experience and youth in the side worked on Sunday, and Hussey believes it is a good approach.
"At the moment it's a really good balance," he said. "You still get a lot from Ricky Ponting and watching Michael Clarke play and some of the older boys playing. But what it does do with the injection of youth, it keeps the older players doing well and working so hard at their game to increase their level of play. Watching Matt Wade come out the other night and play as well as he has really does motivate you to elevate your game to a new level."
Hussey will fly to Perth on Wednesday ahead of Australia's second match in the tri-series, against Sri Lanka on Friday. Australia then move on to Adelaide to play India two days later.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here