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Alex Brown at Trent Bridge
September 14, 2009
Michael Hussey does not believe Australia's "working class" cricketers can be considered the best one-day side in the world, despite moving within two ratings points of the top-ranked South Africans in the ICC standings. Having won eight of their last nine matches against Pakistan, Scotland and England, the Australians could reclaim the No. 1 ODI ranking with victories in the double-header at Trent Bridge and the series finale at Chester-le-Street; results that would seal an unprecedented 7-0 series sweep over Andrew Strauss's men.
Hussey, though, insists that only a strong showing at the Champions Trophy will determine whether this reconfigured and recalibrated Australian side is truly worthy of recognition as the world's pre-eminent ODI force. Further obstacles lie ahead in the form of a seven-match one-day series in India, and home series against West Indies and Pakistan, prompting Hussey to reserve judgement on Australia's place in the international pecking order.
"We have got a lot of new faces around the squad but realistically I think we've got a lot of work to do before we can honestly claim that we're the best one-day team in the world," Hussey said. "It's definitely a motivating factor for the team to try and be the best team in the world, but I don't think that's where we see ourselves at the moment. We're building a new team, a new environment, a new culture and trying to take bits and pieces from the past regimes and trying to improve on those as well.
"We'll probably get a better idea after the Champions Trophy where we probably sit. Similarly, with where we sit in the Test match rankings, we had a pretty good idea after playing South Africa home and away and obviously playing England in England. We probably have a fair idea of where we sit in the Test match arena."
Australia and England began the current ODI series ranked third and fourth respectively on the ICC table, but four consecutive victories to the tourists have changed the landscape dramatically. Ricky Ponting's side moved into a tie for second-place with India as of Sunday, while England plummeted to seventh behind Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Short of a dramatic turnaround in the final three matches in Nottingham and Durham, it is difficult to see England figuring at the Champions Trophy.
For Australia, reclamation of the No. 1 ODI ranking will not erase the bitter memories of a tour that has witnessed a calamitous World Twenty20 campaign and an Ashes series defeat, but it will imbue a sense of confidence in the younger members of the squad. Hussey considers himself a generational bridge between those players and the galacticos that won the past three consecutive World Cups, and is hopeful Australia's current side can continue the winning ways, if not the sheer dominance, of their forebears.
"I think we're more of a working class team now," he said. "When I first started playing it was an unbelievable team to be involved with. There was so much confidence, there was so much presence about the team. Basically, you did expect to win every single game and win it well. We had so many match winners, that if Hayden didn't come off, it'd be Gilchrist or it'd be Ponting, or McGrath would get the wickets. It was expected and it's generally what happened.
"Being part of this team, everyone has a specific job they've got to do and we all have to be doing our jobs if we're going to win and win well. We don't rely just on one player to make all the runs or to be the match-winner. We've all got to chip in and do our bit.
"I actually get on well with the younger generation. They are different, but it's good because I can learn a bit off them as well. I am available for anyone who wants to chat at any time. And it goes both ways. I like to chat to them about computer games and stuff - which I know absolutely know nothing about - which hopefully can help my kids."
Never before has an Australian side whitewashed a bilateral seven-game one-day international series, and Ponting is making strides to ensure complacency does not take hold in the final week of the tour. With the limited overs series sealed at Lord's on Saturday, the Australian captain impressed upon his players the need to drive home their advantage and rediscover their ruthless edge ahead of the Champions Trophy.
"Ricky's been on our hammer already basically about trying to maintain our momentum," Hussey said. "We've also identified some areas we need to improve. We want to finish this summer well here in England and it's a really good lead-up to the Champions Trophy as well.
"I'm sure [a whitewash of England] is a motivating thing for us but we've just got to worry about this game really. If we don't win this one then that's out the window. It's been great to win this series but we want to keep the momentum going forward leading into the Champions Trophy. We still think we can improve a lot and we're going to have to improve a lot more to be right up there in this Champions Trophy."
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