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June 19, 2012
Should Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey fail to reach the 2013 Ashes, there are another two Australian thirtysomethings, slightly younger, with enormous experience of how to bat in England. At the age of 34, David Hussey has not played a Test and Chris Rogers has played just one, but both have made themselves very much at home on UK surfaces, and are as familiar with Jimmy Anderson, Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann as any participant in the past few Ashes encounters.
It would be a move from far left-field by Australia's selectors to entertain the thought of choosing either Rogers or Hussey for 2013, not to mention a strategy more short-term than long. But they remain in the wings, still holding out the faintest hope that their years of finding the right way to play in England might one day prove useful.
Hussey is part of Australia's ODI squad currently training in Leicester, and said he felt a greater chance of playing Test cricket under the current selection panel led by John Inverarity than he ever had in the days of Andrew Hilditch's former regime. "I think the new selection committee is going to select the best players available at any one time. I have not given up hope of playing Test cricket," Hussey said. "If I did not believe I could not play Test cricket I probably would not be playing or probably follow the Twenty20 leagues around the world but that is still a goal for me. Playing Test cricket for your country is still the ultimate.
"I just had a very good one-on-one meeting with the coach and it is probably the most comfortable I have felt in the environment. You always try your best to help your team to as many wins as possible. I actually feel that I have a few credits in the bank now. Hopefully I don't need to use them in the short term."
Since he took over the role of national selector following last year's Argus review recommendations, Inverarity has repeatedly insisted that Test cricket is closed to no-one. Selection discussions have occasionally thrown up more experienced names - Simon Katich's name was mentioned as a potential Test opener against India before the panel settled on Ed Cowan, for instance - and there is a greater desire to select the best and most thoughtful team for the task at hand, rather than hoping for younger players to grow into their roles.
Instead, potential Test batsman are being tried via the avenue of ODIs, meaning Peter Forrest, George Bailey and Steve Smith are the three with the Ashes most firmly in their minds. However none can call on the years of county batting that Hussey and Rogers have accumulated. Hussey made the county grounds of Nottinghamshire and Sussex his own, while Rogers has prospered for Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and now Middlesex.
"I am hoping the Aussie selectors realise that Chris and myself, Phil Hughes is making a lot of runs for Worcester as well, are doing the right things in county cricket and have played a lot of cricket over here as well," Hussey said of Rogers and himself. "Playing county cricket is a big advantage for Chris and myself and hopefully it is looked upon for future series. "I would not have got back in the ODI team last summer if they did not pick on form. I had a really good Big Bash and I think that helped getting back in the one-day team and I thought I may as well grab every opportunity because it might well be the last."
Since his brother Michael's Test debut in 2005, David Hussey has continued to accumulate runs for Victoria at home and a range of county and club sides abroad. He has learned to deal with feeling unwanted at Test match level. Irrespective of his international future, Hussey will do his best as a bulwark of the ODI team on this tour, and pass on as much knowledge to the aforementioned younger batsmen as he can. The bowlers, too, are likely to be offered a few suggestions.
"You always get disappointed when selection comes around," Hussey said. "You sort of sit back and hope you are going to be a on a tour playing for your country. All you have to do is to keep churning out the runs and I was probably at an unfortunate time where Australia had so many good batters.
"[But] I have played a lot of county cricket over here, I think it is seven or eight years and playing all over the country and getting used to the conditions. So it is up to me to pass on some knowledge about wickets especially to our younger bowlers and how to bowl and what bowling I didn't like to face."
21.50pm: This story was amended to correct the fact that Chris Rogers has played one Test
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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