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Deluge in ODIs, drought in Tests

A fantastic series against India capped what has been a fine year in ODIs for Michael Hussey; in Tests, though, it's a different story

S Rajesh

November 13, 2009

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Michael Hussey whips it the on side, India v Australia, 2nd ODI, Nagpur, October 28, 2009
Michael Hussey was in fantastic form during the ODI series in India, but his Test form has been less impressive this year © AFP
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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.

Michael Hussey in 2009
  Matches Runs Average Strike rate 100s/ 50s
Tests 9 483 32.20 41.67 1/ 3
ODIs 33 1166 48.58 90.80 0/ 11

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.

Best ODI batsmen in 2009 (Qual: 600 runs; excluding games against Zim, B'desh and other non-Test-playing teams)
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.

Australian and Indian batsmen in the 2009 ODI series
Batsman Runs Average Strike rate Dot-ball% Boundary %
Michael Hussey 313 104.33 97.50 37.07 37.70
MS Dhoni 285 57.00 73.83 51.81 37.19
Sachin Tendulkar 275 45.83 88.67 55.48 55.27
Ricky Ponting 267 44.50 75.33 56.50 46.44
Shane Watson 256 42.66 91.00 55.52 60.16
Cameron White 218 43.60 81.00 47.96 39.45
Gautam Gambhir 158 39.50 81.00 46.67 36.71
Suresh Raina 156 31.20 93.33 44.91 44.87
Virender Sehwag 138 23.00 115.00 55.83 76.81
Shaun Marsh 144 36.00 84.67 48.82 40.28
Yuvraj Singh 128 32.00 76.65 58.08 51.56

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.

ODI batsmen since Jan 2008 (Qual: 1000 runs, sorted by dot-ball%)
Batsman Runs Average Strike rate Dot-ball % Boundary %
Michael Hussey 1638 48.17 84.33 44.36 31.99
Virender Sehwag 1362 45.40 121.83 47.54 68.72
MS Dhoni 2007 60.81 81.00 48.20 32.59
Tillakaratne Dilshan 1007 41.95 93.50 49.30 48.86
Gautam Gambhir 1524 43.54 89.00 49.47 43.96
Owais Shah 1111 39.67 83.00 49.55 43.92
Shivnarine Chanderpaul 1110 61.66 76.00 50.93 35.14
Yuvraj Singh 1591 40.79 99.33 51.97 59.71
Mahela Jayawardene 1075 32.57 77.67 52.32 38.33
Sachin Tendulkar 1216 46.76 89.83 52.48 47.04

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.)

Australian batsmen in Tests since 2008 (Qual: 500 runs)
Batsman Tests Runs Average 100s/ 50s
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.

Australian batsmen in ODIs since 2008 (Qual: 500 runs)
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.

Most runs at No. 5 for Australia in ODIs
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

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S Rajesh Stats editor Every week the Numbers Game takes a look at the story behind the stats, with an original slant on facts and figures. The column is edited by S Rajesh, ESPNcricinfo's stats editor in Bangalore. He did an MBA in marketing, and then worked for a year in advertising, before deciding to chuck it in favour of a job which would combine the pleasures of watching cricket and writing about it. The intense office cricket matches were an added bonus.

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