Deluge in ODIs, drought in Tests
The year 2009 has been a strange one for Michael Hussey. As a Test batsman, his stocks have plummeted: in 13 matches since the beginning of the Australian season last year, he has averaged a miserable 27.18, with one century in 23 innings. The highest he has averaged in four series during this period has been 35. During these 12 months, his career average has witnessed a freefall, from 66.31 to 52.65.
The same period, however, has brought him outstanding success in the one-day format. In 2009, Hussey has played 33 matches, more than any other player, and scored 1166 runs, which is next only to Ricky Ponting's 1198. Admittedly, Hussey had a couple of quiet series in this format too, averaging in the early 30s at home against South Africa and then against England, but he averaged more than 45 in the return series in South Africa and in the Chappell-Hadlee Series. The high point, though, was the recently concluded seven-match series in India, when he effortlessly took on extra responsibility in the absence of several key players, leading the run-tally among batsmen from both sides: his six scores in the series read 73, 53, 81*, 40, 31* and 35*. In two of those innings he scored at more than a run a ball, while in two other innings his strike rate was in the late 90s.
Overall this year, Hussey's aggregate and strike rate in ODIs are more than twice his Test numbers, while the average in the shorter version is 150% that of his Test average. What's also incredible is the consistency with which he has scored runs, getting 11 half-centuries in 33 innings.
|Matches||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s/ 50s|
In fact, his performances against India have propelled him to among the best ODI batsmen in 2009. Among those who've scored at least 600 this year (against the top eight teams), Hussey has the fifth-best batting index (average multiplied by runs per ball). Virender Sehwag's incredible strike rate puts him on top despite his ordinary series against Australia, while the consistent MS Dhoni, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Sachin Tendulkar are the others who are ahead of Hussey.
|Batsman||Matches||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s/ 50s||Ave x SR|
|Virender Sehwag||15||606||43.28||134.96||2/ 2||58.41|
|MS Dhoni||26||1019||67.93||82.44||1/ 8||56.00|
|Tillakaratne Dilshan||14||647||49.76||98.62||2/ 2||49.07|
|Sachin Tendulkar||17||756||50.40||93.68||3/ 1||47.21|
|Michael Hussey||33||1166||48.58||90.80||0/ 11||44.11|
|Shane Watson||23||945||49.73||81.74||3/ 2||40.65|
|Yuvraj Singh||22||760||40.00||97.93||2/ 5||39.17|
|Ricky Ponting||29||1198||42.78||81.11||2/ 9||34.70|
Hussey was impressive against India not only for the runs he scored but also the manner in which he scored them. Of the 321 balls he faced, only 119 were allowed to go runless, which is an excellent dot-ball percentage of 37.07, the lowest among all batsmen in the series. In comparison, India's middle order played far more dots, though their problems were also compounded by the early wickets the team lost, forcing Dhoni and Co to adopt a more cautious approach.
Along with a low dot-ball percentage, Hussey's boundary factor was pretty low too, which indicates a preference for placing the ball in the gaps and running the singles and twos - he took 155 singles and 20 twos, again the highest for both teams.
|Batsman||Runs||Average||Strike rate||Dot-ball%||Boundary %|
That approach - make every ball count but avoid the risks involved in constantly looking for boundaries - has been Hussey's trademark in one-day cricket, which explains the oft-repeated comment about him: that he comes out to bat and gets 25 to 30 runs without being noticed. In the last two years, his dot-ball and boundary percentages are the lowest among batsmen who have scored 1000 runs.
|Batsman||Runs||Average||Strike rate||Dot-ball %||Boundary %|
The next two tables show just how big a gulf there is between Hussey the Test batsman and Hussey the ODI batsman over the last two years. In Tests there are six Australian batsmen who average more than him during this period, which explains why there has been such a clamour among fans in the country to give him a rest. Instead, the boot, quite ironically, went to Philip Hughes, whose average of 52.44 is the highest among all Australian batsmen during this period. (However, he doesn't figure in the table below since his aggregate is 28 short of the 500-run qualifier.)
|Michael Clarke||22||1831||52.31||7/ 8|
|Simon Katich||20||1730||50.88||6/ 8|
|Andrew Symonds||10||762||50.80||1/ 6|
|Marcus North||7||527||47.90||3/ 1|
|Ricky Ponting||23||1830||44.63||5/ 10|
|Brad Haddin||19||1179||39.30||2/ 3|
|Michael Hussey||23||1383||35.46||3/ 8|
|Matthew Hayden||11||622||32.73||2/ 2|
However, in ODIs during this period Hussey is the clear leader for Australia, averaging more than 51 at a strike rate of almost 85.
|Batsman||ODIs||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s/ 50s|
|Michael Hussey||51||1788||51.08||84.33||0/ 17|
|Shane Watson||31||1275||47.22||85.57||4/ 3|
|Callum Ferguson||25||599||46.07||85.05||0/ 5|
|Shaun Marsh||19||726||40.33||76.82||1/ 5|
|Michael Clarke||41||1339||38.25||66.81||1/ 12|
|Cameron White||31||761||36.23||79.35||1/ 5|
|Ricky Ponting||42||1476||36.00||79.14||3/ 10|
|Brad Haddin||27||797||33.20||84.07||1/ 6|
|David Hussey||23||598||28.47||88.46||1/ 4|
|James Hopes||48||760||23.03||85.97||0/ 2|
Out of the six innings he batted in India, five were at the No. 5 position. His last knock of the series - the unbeaten 35 in Guwahati - lifted his aggregated at that slot to 1003, making him only the fourth Australian to go past 1000. As the table below indicates, his stats at that spot compare favourably with the three others who have scored more runs than him. The only sore point is the lack of a century, despite nine fifty-plus scores in 25 innings.
|Batsman||Innings||Runs||Average||Strike rate||100s/ 50s|
|Steve Waugh||135||4117||37.42||76.60||2/ 25|
|Andrew Symonds||96||3473||44.52||91.87||5/ 23|
|Michael Bevan||33||1165||41.60||74.58||2/ 5|
|Michael Hussey||25||1003||52.78||82.14||0/ 9|
|Mark Waugh||37||934||27.47||83.02||0/ 7|
Hussey's ODI performances have salvaged what would otherwise count as a disappointing year. However, in less than two weeks he'll get another shot at redeeming his Test year, when Australia take on West Indies in a three-match series, which will be followed by the Boxing Day Test against Pakistan. A reasonable start should ensure Hussey gets four chances to rediscover his Test mojo. Given all his exploits in the long version in his first couple of years in international cricket, there's no reason why he shouldn't find it again.
S Rajesh is stats editor of Cricinfo