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August 27, 2012
Michael Hussey is so established as Australia's middle-order fulcrum that his absence from England earlier this year was considered by the team management to have been critical in suffering a 0-4 defeat. Nonetheless, Hussey is happy to entertain the prospect of abandoning that role to open the batting should the dual duties of batting up top and keeping wicket be deemed too taxing for Matthew Wade.
Parental leave caused Hussey to miss the ODI tour of England, and he believes the break has refreshed him for assignments to come. On the eve of Australia's first match against Pakistan in Sharjah, Hussey acknowledged the extreme heat of the UAE in August-September required a degree of flexibility in how the team's resources were managed, and said he would happily accept a promotion if required to ease Wade's burden.
"I'm open to it, it doesn't bother me," Hussey said in Sharjah. "Whatever the team really needs I'd be more than happy to try to help out, as long as I'm somewhere in that batting order, I'm happy to bat anywhere from Nos. 1 to 11.
"If Wadey did make a hundred in these pretty oppressive conditions batting first and then had to go straight out and keep, that would be a difficult thing. Or if we were chasing in extremely hot conditions and he fielded the whole 50 overs and didn't feel like he could 100% concentrate on opening the innings for us then it might be something we could look at.
"But he's a pretty fit guy Wadey and I think he plays that role pretty well, what's he's been doing at the moment, so he'd have to be in a pretty bad way I think for them to try and change that tactic, but certainly we have to be flexible as batsmen, we've learned to become more flexible with Twenty20 cricket coming in and things like that, so I'd certainly have no dramas with it."
Though he started life as an opening batsman, Hussey began his evolution into the complete player of today when shifted down the order in English county cricket, and enjoys the posting in ODIs. His blend of power, timing, placement and hustled singles has been vital to Australia's progress in many matches, particularly in the later overs when batting has become difficult for new batsmen coming to the wicket to deal with reverse swing, spin and the white ball's loss of colour.
"I'm just trying to play my role in the team and trying to play the situation of the game," Hussey said. "It might've come off in the last game but there's been hundreds of times that it hasn't come off and it's been up to other guys. But it's certainly a role I enjoy, I like being in those tight, pressure situations, trying to work the team out of it, but I wouldn't say I'm an expert at it or anything like that, I just try to do my role in the team."
The heat of the region at this time of year forced the bizarre scheduling of the ODI matches to span two days, concluding around 2am local time. Hussey said the Australians would not be using it as an excuse should they slip up against Pakistan over the next three matches.
"I don't think we'll be letting the heat be an excuse for any poor performance," Hussey said. "I've played in Chennai, even in just Twenty20 games, and that's a lot hotter than playing out here. In Chennai the temperature might be only mid-30s but the humidity is unbelievable. That's probably the most oppressive conditions I've ever had to play in.
"Having said that, it's still extremely tough here. I only batted for 15 overs the other day [to make 49 from 37 balls] and I was pretty knackered by the end of it."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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