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November 12, 2010
Greg Chappell, the Australian selector, has encouraged Michael Hussey to play with freedom so he can continue to be a force at international level. Hussey has gained the support of Andrew Hilditch and Chappell this week, but has been battling for form over the past two years, averaging 37 in his past 35 Tests.
With the Australian squad for the first Ashes Test due to be named on Monday, Chappell offered Hussey some advice. "As you get older, the difficulty is that you are aware of the things that can go wrong and you're aware of how hard it is to make runs at that level consistently," Chappell told AAP. "Before you have all that experience, you tend to go out and you can play with a little bit more freedom."
Chappell said finding that freedom was harder as you got older. "The only way you can achieve is to get into the same state of mind that you were in as a younger player," he said. "That's the hardest part of being an older player, having that freedom to go out and take some risks.
"You've got to risk getting out to score runs and that's the hardest thing to do. We all become more conservative. I haven't seen anyone who hasn't suffered from that."
Hussey is now 35, the same age as Simon Katich and Ricky Ponting. The aging line-up has created concerns about the present and fears for the future, with it highly unlikely two of the trio will be playing for their country in a year.
Chappell is a believer in young talent but the next rung of batting contenders did not perform well during the week. There were no big scores from Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja or Callum Ferguson in the first few days of their ongoing matches, easing the pressure on the incumbents.
Hussey is not playing this week but scored 71 not out, 15 and 6 not out in the ODI series against Sri Lanka. Hilditch said it was important to regard batsmen who average 50 in Test cricket highly. "He's been a great player for Australia, but he will be looking to get runs to stay in the squad, like everyone else," Hilditch said. Hussey's mean is currently 49.75 from 54 Tests.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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