England v Australia, 5th npower Test, The Oval, 2nd day

Whither Michael Hussey?

The latest duck for Australia's No. 4 has raised further questions over his future in the team

Alex Brown at The Oval

August 21, 2009

Comments: 39 | Text size: A | A

Stuart Broad trapped Mike Hussey leg before for a duck, England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval, 2nd day, August 21, 2009
Mike Hussey is trapped leg before by Stuart Broad as his lean series continues © Getty Images
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Australia will face a multitude of tough and unpalatable questions in the wake of their turgid batting display at The Oval, but none more immediately confronting than the form issues of Michael Hussey. A timid duck has rendered Hussey's position in the Australian middle order close to untenable, and there must now be grave doubts among Andrew Hilditch's selection panel as to whether he can be nursed through another series.

Certainly, Hussey was not alone in failing against a driven and disciplined England attack at The Oval on Friday, but while others have solid recent records to fall back on, the 34-year-old has no such wiggle room. In what is fast becoming a recurring theme, his dismissal to Stuart Broad for a third ball duck was the product of uncertainty around his off-stump, this time manifesting in a late attempt to play an inswinging delivery that cannoned into his front pad.

Australia have lost six Test veterans through natural attrition over the past few years, and Hilditch's panel could be forgiven for balking at the prospect of forcing another out the door. In a period of major transition, Hussey and Ricky Ponting were viewed as the men around whom selectors could fashion a new-look batting line-up. Two years on, that view has changed markedly.

Hussey's duck at The Oval was his sixth since the beginning of the last Australian summer, and eleventh total of 10-or-below in his past 13 matches. In that time, he has scored 477 runs at 22.71 and continued a century-less streak that now stands at 28 innings. Hussey's Ashes campaign has charted a similar course, with 155 runs at 22.15 - 115 of which were scored in innings at Lord's and Edgbaston - rendering him the worst performed of Australia's top-seven batsmen in England.

When the end approaches, great batsmen rarely lose all their faculties at once. Their slides are generally more subtle, insidious affairs, with signs of decline punctuated by the occasional throw-back performance. Such has been the pattern for Hussey over the past 10 months. Each of his four half-centuries have raised hope that the drought had finally broken, only for tension and uncertainty to return, as evidenced by his dismissals shouldering arms at Lord's and Edgbaston. Consistency has been conspicuously absent; the pressure ever-intensifying.

Should Australia lose this match - and a 172-run first innings deficit is giving every reason to believe they will - Ponting's men will be relegated to fourth-place on the ICC Test ladder. Whether they are deserving of such an exaggerated slide is open for debate, but an inquisition will nevertheless be launched by an Australian public unfamiliar with the concept of a losing cricket team.

Australia's 2005 Ashes defeat proved the catalyst for change, and 2009 may yet follow a similar script. Clarke is undoubtedly equipped to handle a promotion from No. 5 to No. 4 in the batting order, and home Test series against the eighth-ranked West Indians and sixth-ranked Pakistanis might be viewed as an opportune time to blood a younger batsman. Callum Ferguson will emerge as a strong contender, although a David for Michael Hussey swap - similar to the Waugh exchange of 1991 - cannot be discounted.

It would, of course, be a great injustice to apportion all blame for Australia's dramatic collapse at The Oval to Hussey. Any sequence involving a team losing ten wickets for 87 runs suggests a multitude of sins committed by numerous culprits, and Ponting, Clarke and Brad Haddin are among those who would dearly love the opportunity to replay their innings. But whereas they have scored heavily in recent Australian campaigns, Hussey has not. And the patience of the public, if not the selectors, is wearing thin.

Like Matthew Hayden four years ago, Hussey has one more innings at The Oval to convince critics, and perhaps himself, that he is the man to lead Australia into the next summer. Hayden's scratchy century in 2005 kick-started the most prolific 18 months of his career. Can Hussey emulate those feats? All will be revealed this weekend.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on (August 23, 2009, 20:46 GMT)

Yes! The doubters with their nasty comments have been proved wrong as Mike Hussey saves his Test career with a magnificent hundred against all odds... well done Mr Cricket! The only time I have been more relieved to see someone score a hundred would have been when Rahul Dravid did against England at Mohali, hope Mike goes on until at least the 2011 World Cup and gets to bow out on his own terms.

Posted by rahulsaxena on (August 23, 2009, 12:04 GMT)

Vezayar... your argument is absolutely baseless and a smart attempt by you to deviate from the topic at hand, which is Micheal Hussey! But since you insist... the modern Australian cricketers are quite cocky and under the garb of "mental disintegration" (which they called abuse when done against them) are known to cross the line more often than not. The Sydney test is the greatest example anyone can think of. Confidence is a good thing. Arrogance is not ! Instead of taking digs at India, please contribute valid points to the debate and if you can't, I guess abstinence is the way to go.

Posted by SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on (August 23, 2009, 10:13 GMT)

As an Indian fan, I almost feel conflicted in feeling sorry for any Australian cricketer, but ultimately I don't for the simple reason that it is Mike 'Mr Cricket' Hussey, who is one of the (very) few members of the Australian team who I respect for his sportsmanship. He has gone through a tough patch of late, and I wouldn't be surprised if the calllous Australian selectors heartlessly axe him, but for Australia's and Test cricket's sake I hope that he emulates Hayden, Dravid and Collingwood in making a career-saving hundred tonight at the Oval, as he needs all the support he can get considering the vitriolic anti-Hussey brigade evidenced with these comments. All the best Mike, a true gentleman of the game.

Posted by Vyshal on (August 22, 2009, 12:16 GMT)

Vezayar, you dont need to be a team psychologist to know something which is evident from the lackaidisical approach of the Aussies. Ponting wants to hit a century in every innings so that he can come close to Tendulkar as soon as possible and may be can overtake him one day (dunno if that is going to happen) and poor Symonds has made a mockery of himself when he was sent off packing by the selectors for lack of discipline. I am sure the aussie team is in for an overhaul. Just like how you have discarded my comments as baseless, every sane Cricket loving fan would have rejected the claims made by Aussies about the Indians. And please, I would request all the sports fans, for God's sake, do not compare Hussey to the great Tendulkar, they are poles apart. When the Aussie team was winning all over, they had players who not only had extraordinary talents to single handedly win matches, but they were playing for their country. I am sorry Vezayar, as I do not see this approach now.

Posted by Vikramaditya100 on (August 22, 2009, 10:12 GMT)

Hussey's nickname is Mr. Cricket because he loves the game too much and not because he or his fellow players think of him very highly (was given to him by Flintoff i think). His form since the Indian tour has been poor but I think he will be back among the runs soon. He just needs to relax, take it one ball at a time and not think too much about the outcome. His one day form has been pretty decent and even if he's dropped he will not be discarded for good because he will still play in the one day squad. But having said this i think Brad Hodge was treated very poorly by the selectors. He makes an unbeaten double hundred against Pollock, Ntini and co. in Perth and is dropped for the next match. He should have been picked instead of Hughes. Year after year he was among the highest run maker in domestic cricket (both in Oz and Eng). He needs to be picked soon.

Posted by vezayar on (August 22, 2009, 9:46 GMT)

Really Vyshal? So you know the exact agenda and intent of the Australian players. Notice there is no question mark at the end of that sentence? Its rhetoric, as any non-moronic human would completely write-off your comment as ridiculous). Assuming you do know, which you state to be the case, i would then also assume that you're the team psychologist, am i right? If not, well then... Your comment is as plainy absurd as your passive display of aggression. By that i refer to your reference to australian players (apparently) calling indian players selfish. Same rubbish in every post. Endless amounts of baseless comments that are bred from media slurrs and ill-feelings towards a team (and nation for equally baseless reasons) that was so dominant for so many years. Lastly, Rahulsaxena, NOT ONCE, has any modern sustralian player claimed to be 'the greatest this' or 'the greatest that'. Why do you feel the need to make and share opinions based on absolute bollucks? Tis an absolute farce.

Posted by prashant1 on (August 22, 2009, 9:40 GMT)

Almost all Tendulkars poor runs were due to injuries. Serious career threatening ones with recurrent surgeries. The likes of Hussey,Lara etc have no such excuse. Whats wrong with him? Nothing. So then?...Its not a question of waiting for him to recover from injuries or some such...

Posted by Murlax on (August 22, 2009, 9:26 GMT)

Vyshal has given a very good response to the article above. It does look as though the Aussies are playing for themselves. Shallow as it may seem, each of the players that Vyshal mentioned has some kind of personal goal they are aiming for. There have always been tremendous competition to be in the top 11 in Australia. While it was good when the top 11 was also in the top 30 of the world, the entire current 11 won't even make it to the top 100 (barring a few exceptions). I am not sure what the selectors are going to do about Hussey. All that I know is that it is going to be a very important decision which will decide how much time Australia will take to come back to the top again. And we know that they will bounce back, as they always have...

Posted by Justifiable on (August 22, 2009, 9:25 GMT)

Alexk400 has written that Pontingn plays well under pressure.What a joke? Many a times in the past he has proved how fragile he is when under pressure. No, its not necessary to go far backwards. If he really a gutsy player like Steve Waugh, he would have played it in the first innings and he will prove it by playing in the second innings now. Let me tell my friend Alexk400, that the writing on the wall is evident and deline of Ponting thereby.

Posted by mrgupta on (August 22, 2009, 9:00 GMT)

Well @ Alexk400 let me enlighten you with few facts about Sachin. If you search for Batsmen who avg most in a Winning cause in ODIs Sachin comes No.1, and averages 7 runs more than his nearest competitor Ponting. Sachin averages a decent 65 in the Test matches that India has Won. If you take records from 1990 onwards when he started playing, he is second in the list of highest averages by a batsman when winning a match on foreign soil (13 runs in avg clear of nearest Aussie Steve Waugh). Unlike the Aussies who always had the luxury of having a very potent bowling attack and thus their batsmen never faced those top bowlers like McGrath, Warne, Lee and Mcdermott, Sachin has played against the best bowlers of his time (barring Kumble) and has scored 85 international centuries. If you think he chokes under pressure then i am really surprized how he managed all these things over 20 years of International Cricket. Oh, and i forgot, he leads the all time Run charts in both Test and ODIs.....

Posted by rahulsaxena on (August 22, 2009, 8:56 GMT)

@ Popcorn... eh? Hussey = Tendulkar? Do you even really know what it means? I dont see any Don Bradman or any international cricketers playing across the planet endorsing of Hussey even being in the same league as Tendulkar, mate. Everyone everywhere wants to grow up and become a Tendulkar ! Is there anyone outside Australia who wants to grow up to become a Michael Hussey? Like I said and you proved, nicknames don't win you matches. Performances do !

Posted by KP_84 on (August 22, 2009, 8:56 GMT)

Hussey's seniority is probably the main reason that the selectors had chosen not to let him continue. But besides Ponting and Hussey, Michael Clarke has played responsibly in the past 12 months and people tend to forget that he is also quite experienced (he has played 5 years of Test cricket) probably because he is younger. Performance has to be more important than experience here. Hussey's cheap middle order dismissals have caused too many collapses over the past 12 months.

Posted by advanceaustraliafair on (August 22, 2009, 8:53 GMT)

Hussey must surely be cast aside after this series, the team's been carrying him for too long. He was tremendous when he first came into the side, but that was 3-4 years ago, and for almost a year he's done nothing. Nobody should be indispensible. Plus, he's now 34, and unlikely to get any better. The selectors have to be ruthless and start encouraging younger players, especially with Ponting and Katich due to retire soon. I think Hughes will come back into the side for the Australian summer, with either Katich or Watson to drop down the order - Watson most likely. Hughes had his problems against the short ball, but the selectors need to persevere with him - he's part of our future. Ferguson might also be an option, but right now there is a dearth of talented young batsmen in Australia who are ready for test cricket. This is why there should be a major shake-up with Sheffield Shield teams - get rid of the 30-somethings (the dead wood) and start promoting younger players.

Posted by gmathew on (August 22, 2009, 8:18 GMT)

And this is the guy who tried to 'advice' Trott.....

Posted by popcorn on (August 22, 2009, 8:16 GMT)

Sachin Tendulkar has had a poor run many a time. Why was he never dropped? Hussey is in the same mould.I hope the Selectors resist the temptation to drop him in this rebuilding phase.

Posted by rahulsaxena on (August 22, 2009, 8:15 GMT)

I think the biggest problem that confronts the Australian players is that they often go overboard with self-praise. Look, sometimes its ok. Everyone does it once in a while. But regularly nicknaming newcomers to be better than the best in the world is liking striking the axe on your own feet. "Mr. Cricket", "World's Greatest Opening bowler" (read: Johnson), "World's Greatest Batsman" (read:Punter), "McGrath 2" (read: S.Clark), "World's greatest All-rounder" (read: Symmo) are some of the nicknames the Aussies have given themselves. This is quite unnecessary. Nicknames and self-praise don't win you matches. Performances do.

Posted by Avid.Cricket.Watcher on (August 22, 2009, 7:41 GMT)

I don't believe the end is here for Hussey's Test career, but he does deserve to be dropped for a while from the Test team. And guys like Brad Hodge, or maybe even Philip Hughes, deserve some investment instead. Meanwhile, Hussey can work out his game back in domestic cricket. No shame in that. I think there's a fair chance that a super-committed player like Hussey can still return stronger and wiser.

Posted by Vyshal on (August 22, 2009, 6:28 GMT)

To a large extent, I feel that the Aussies are playing only for themselves and not for the country and the team. There are only a few honchos left in the team after retirement of the Aussie greats. Ricky is eyeing for the world record of most 100's (he is second only to the Great Tendulkar), Clarke is nursing his captainship dreams, Symonds is wanting to do everything for himself and not his team and Hussey is playing only to ensure his place in the team. Its a deja-vu. Time and again the Aussies have pointed fingers at other teams (especially India) and have said the Indians play only for themselves and not for the country. Well, life does come a full circle and it has, for the aussies. They are on the verge of loosing the biggest battle - the Ashes which every Aussie cricketer yearns to win for his country. I know everything is not over yet till it is actually, but even if the Ashes is won by the Aussies, its proved who plays for what.

Posted by cricket-vid on (August 22, 2009, 6:19 GMT)

It is ironic that prior to the series Australia's up and coming superstar of which Australia expected the most - one a batsman - Hughes, the other a bowler in Johnson went so completely of the rails. They were hardly prepared for it. The Oval test showed that the tour selectors lacked the courage to make the tough but neccessary descisions. What happened to the Aussie motto of horses for course when it came to pickiing their bowlers according to pitch conditions? Yes Mr Cricket must go. But who to replace him with? If the selectors want an experienced batsman to build the line up around then look no further than Brad Hodge - a batsman poorly treated when Australia had a line up filled with batting riches.

Posted by Gunnerseleven on (August 22, 2009, 6:02 GMT)

Every batsman goes through a bad patch in their career and hussey should no be dropped for his form this year.If hussey is dropped there wont be any depth in batting for the aussies.Already hildich made a mistake by not selecting stuart clark for champions trophy.Aus gonna pay the price for it

Posted by ultimate stars on (August 22, 2009, 5:37 GMT)

I think next to GIlly and Hayden another retirement is ready for australia in tests and thats Mike Hussey. Nothing wrong in giving chance to Ferguson in tests in place for Hussey atleast for a test series, who is doing very well in tough situations in ODI for Oz.

Posted by CricketFanBoy on (August 22, 2009, 5:30 GMT)

Hussey should request for a series against India. I have seen many batmen ,who were struggling for form earlier, scoring centuries against India :)

Posted by wix99 on (August 22, 2009, 5:12 GMT)

I doubt M. Hussey will play in Australia's next Test and unless he scores huge runs in the Shield he will be unlikely to get back into the team again. Australia have plenty of options to replace him. Brad Hodge is an experienced player who can slot directly into Hussey's No. 4 spot. Shane Watson could move down the order with Phil Hughes returning to open. David Hussey, Callum Ferguson, Cameron White, Shaun Marsh and Michael Klinger are other players who might have a chance of getting the call up.

Posted by SachinIsTheGreatest on (August 22, 2009, 5:00 GMT)

One swallow hardly does a Mr.Cricket make. It takes years and years of hard-work and success at the highest level to be called the epitome of batting. Even then a legend like Tendulkar has admitted that you continuously learn at every stage. And Hussey? One, maybe two years at the top and there was talk as if he was the greatest thing to have happened to world cricket. He has now been continuously exposed against quality seam and swing bowling. I hope the hype is toned down at least now.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (August 22, 2009, 3:21 GMT)

Oh and for the record Ricky Ponting is in pretty good form. He has averaged 45 in the Ashes so far. Whilst he is not totally in a purple patch, and slightly down on his career record, he is in decent enough form. Hussey, in comparison, has averaged 20 in the Ashes and hasn't scored a test century for 29 innings. There is a big difference in the comparative form of the 2. Hussey is out of form and needs some time out of the test side to rebuild his career, if he can. The test side also needs him out of the side for their own sakes.

Posted by Dmagna on (August 22, 2009, 3:17 GMT)

In the end it comes to everyone the individual, the team, get over it Australians and then get on with it. its not all over yet the England cricket team have a legacy of grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory, however much I hope that doesn't happen I won't be happy until all 20 Australian wickets are gone. By the way Justifiable what does "Punter is more worst than him" mean? my Australian grammar is a little rusty!

Posted by cricketfanindia on (August 22, 2009, 2:35 GMT)

Hussey is going through a tough patch. This is very much like what Ganguly went through and that too late in his career. Hussey should first be demoted to No.6. Bring North in at No.3 and Ponting at No. 4. If Hussey is still in poor form the drinks trolley might be next. The other way to do it is to push him to face the music - move him to open with Katich and if he is not upto it then drop. But he also has a good ODI record - Australia will be thinking Champions Trophy next and World Cup retention in 2011 presently. Most test teams have been in and are in transition now.

Posted by Sreeni_Chennai on (August 22, 2009, 2:24 GMT)

@ Justifiable: Ponting clearly is not under the scanner for the performances that he has had during the series, including the 78 at Headingly which pretty much threw into gear Australia's reply. Second, if you look at the stats in the last 10 years there is not a single player who has scored more runs than Ponting, at a faster clip or higher average. That clearly shows that, a different stance maybe warranted in the case of Ponting should CA look to make changes.

On a more general note, there are options available in the form of Brad Hodge who really hasn't been handed a fair deal by way of enough opportunities. He is a solid player with great technique, a strong mind and a hunger for runs. Also there is always an outside chance that Symonds perhaps will finally rest his demons.

Posted by Pendennis on (August 22, 2009, 2:11 GMT)

Seems to me the Australian selectors have always had a problem with Hussey in the squad in England. In 2005 he wasn't in the team and should have been and might have saved them, in 2009 he is in the team and shouldn't be and may well cost them!

Posted by KRvi on (August 22, 2009, 2:08 GMT)

@ Alexk, Tendulkar wouldnt have scored 12000+ runs if he could'nt play under pressure. Indian team was too scratchy in the 90's, all dependant on one man - Sachin. So saying he cant' play under pressure when hes done that all his life is foolish.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (August 22, 2009, 1:59 GMT)

I thought that Hussey should have been dropped for this the 5th test, in favour of playing 5 bowlers, with Nathan Hauritz as the 5th. This didn't happen. Now he will be forced to spend a longer time on the sidelines. I don't think that he should be dumped from ODIs, where, for some reason, he is in great form. As for who to replace him, well, Brad Hodge is the man. David Hussey is a reasonable option too. I wouldn't think of Callum Ferguson though, as his FC record isn't good enough. Michael Hussey doesn't need to be out permanently though - just until he recovers some form.

Posted by Justifiable on (August 22, 2009, 0:53 GMT)

If Mike Hussey's statistics is under a scanner, why not that of Punter? Is it only because he is captaining the side? In the same way in which it is stated here-in-above that "when the end approaches, great batsmen rarely lose all their faculties at once. Their slides are generally more subtle, insidious affairs, with signs of decline punctuated by the occasional throw-back performance" with respect to Mike Hussey, Punter is more worst than him if you look at his last two year's performance. You need to weigh all in the same way; can't use different weighing scale only because, the person to be weighed has dressed well. Do you know what I mean?

Posted by peeeeet on (August 21, 2009, 22:42 GMT)

Hughes to open, Watson in the middle order. Very rarely does an allrounder last as an opening batsman in test cricket, and Watson is a middle order player anyway. And Hughes is young and extremely talented, and it has been a long time since someone so young has been introduced in Aussie cricket, so he needs to be stuck with.

Posted by Gopes_On_Dopes on (August 21, 2009, 22:38 GMT)

What's all the fuss about? Hussey's one of the most over-rated batsmen anyways!!

Posted by teo. on (August 21, 2009, 22:38 GMT)

I couldnt have said it better then you have Alex Brown. You encapsulate the broader public's view precisely.

Posted by KingKallis on (August 21, 2009, 21:25 GMT)

496 runs in his last 23 test innings without any century at the average of 22.54 is TOO low for Mr.Cricket!

Its time to say good bye!

Posted by krik8crazy on (August 21, 2009, 20:49 GMT)

Hussey out, Hussey in. I have been saying for a while that Australia have the wrong Hussey in the team. David Hussey puts a premium on his wicket, knows how to construct an innings, has good shot selection, and moves the scoreboard along. Michael looks like he is playing to preserve his average. He is circumspect and is looking more and more like the weakest link. He needs to go.

Posted by rockiniboepip on (August 21, 2009, 20:39 GMT)

Bye bye Mr Cricket, or should it be Mr Wicket

Posted by Alexk400 on (August 21, 2009, 20:16 GMT)

Mr. Cricket is nobody without Hayden and co giving good opening partnership. He is exposed now. He is under pressure. Even ponting is under pressure because opening is not clicking as well as aussies like.

They need solid opener to pair with katich. Until them Hussey Brothers will choke. Just like tendulkar , hussey chokes under pressure. Pressure under sachin is so enormous ( 1 billion indians) and ready to throw stones at his house the moment he failed..God to zero in no time.

Hussey , Michael clarke are scratchy players. They will fail big time once ponting is gone. Ponting playes well under pressure , 100 time better than sachin.

What i think aussie would do is just bring all new players , blood them. I believe marcus north is better than hussey. May be new guys have more hunger?.

Is Hussey coming to the end of the road?
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