The Ashes 2010-11 November 15, 2010

Hussey and North fight for survival

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Michael Hussey and Marcus North have known each other since their childhood days in Perth playing for Wanneroo, but now they're fighting to hold on to their membership of a far more elite club. When the Australian players step out on to the Gabba in ten days to battle for the Ashes, few in the team will be under more pressure than Hussey and North. That's assuming they're in the side.

The presence of the prolific New South Wales batsman Usman Khawaja and the South Australian Callum Ferguson in the 17-man squad for the first Test has intensified the questions over whether Australia's established batting group will survive the summer. At 35, and with only one century to his name in the past year, Hussey has the most to lose. Not that he's showing any signs of panic.

"I don't think you can really worry about anyone else," Hussey said after arriving in Melbourne for Western Australia's Sheffield Shield match, starting at the MCG on Wednesday. "The most important thing is for me to try to concentrate on my preparation. Playing well in this Shield game against Victoria is the first thing to concentrate on, and help WA have a win. And then just to prepare as though I'm going to play in the Test match.

"If you start clouding your mind worrying about other guys, or if they're going to get picked, or if you're not going to get picked, you're taking your mind off what's important. For me, the focus is on preparing to play and preparing to be part of that first Test match and not worrying about anyone else."

It's a method that sounds good, but is easier said than done. Hussey failed in his most recent first-class outing, for the Warriors a fortnight ago, and while he's facing up to the Victorians in Melbourne, Ferguson and Khawaja will be trying to feast on England's second-string attack for Australia A at Bellerive Oval.

North is in a similar situation. His century in Bangalore last month, and his hundred for Western Australia upon returning home have given him some breathing space, but he has less credits in the bank than the more experienced Hussey. Both men will be seriously vulnerable if they record a couple of failures, which makes it all the more important to succeed in this week's Shield game and enter the Gabba Test with some confidence.

"Not at all," North said when asked if he was worried about the selection of Khawaja and Ferguson. "These guys have been performing well this season and the back end of last season. It's a reflection of the domestic cricket. There's always been good young players playing and scoring a lot of runs.

"The fact that they're in the squad is credit to their performances and it's always an honour to be named in any squad, so it's good to see those guys in. It is a big series and it is five Test matches. I'm more concerned about my preparation this week, going into this Shield game and, mentally and training-wise going into the first Test match."

At 31, North could feasibly fight his way back into the side if he lost his place this summer. The same cannot be said of Hussey, who will be doing well if he is able to leave Test cricket at a time of his own choosing. He entered the 2006-07 Ashes with an average of 75.93; he begins this campaign averaging 33.19 over the past two years, during which time he has managed only two centuries.

"I'm actually pretty philosophical about it," Hussey said of his extended lean period. "I understand how the game works. My first couple of years, you can't keep those performances going forever, so you've got to expect there's going to be a time when things don't quite go your way. That's the game of cricket - it's a great leveller."

Hussey had better hope that great leveller doesn't raze him to the ground.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • nmdasaya on November 17, 2010, 5:41 GMT

    i do think david hussy shud b selected to as\us test side IF they to get ashes back.i has played international cricket ,and he is a grt batsman

  • Clyde on November 16, 2010, 13:46 GMT

    I think it's time for a few Cricinfo pundits to be sacked. They bring too little information and too much opinion. We need writers who can convince us of realities of cricket. How about more reporting? Just say what is happening. I don't appreciate the likes of Peter English getting in my mind space because at first I think pehaps they are going to write about cricket. I don't like having consciously not to loathe people like him. Whether Hussey or North are sacked is immaterial to a real cricket-follower. What about a few gripping descriptions of State or club games - I mean cricket, not a lot of ethereal hype?

  • dummy4fb on November 16, 2010, 13:37 GMT

    @ Simon Jessup: "With what is a very average record", interesting last time I checked he had over 300 wickets from under 80 matches, averaging more than 4 wickets a test (more than Courtney Walsh, Kapil Dev, Jeff Thomson and Ian Botham to name a few), at a much faster pace than them tooo (except for perhaps Jeff Thomson!).At tests, he couldn't match the class or statistics of Glenn Mcgrath (the ultimate in Australian pace bowling, in my opinion) but he was still good, and the Aussie's second best pace bowler of the last decade. In ODIs, statistically he was a lethal weapon, 9 five wicket hauls! Thats higher than Wasim Akram, and 1 less than Akram and Vaas (two of the greatest new ball ODI bowlers) put together! At an amazing strike rate and I think he was fastest to 300 ODI wickets. And at such lightening pace as well! He COULD be arguably Australia's greatest ODI bowler even surpassing Mcgrath.

  • capetown-pom on November 16, 2010, 13:23 GMT

    Haha....great to see our aussie cousins losing their sense of humour over the fear of losing back to back ashes against the mother country Hey Mervo and Rooboy, I think we are seeing your true character now you are no longer invincible....well me diggers, let me tell you it's good for the soul to lose occassionally.... But I see signs in my tea leaves....you now have a pommie prime minister as well as a pommie head of state, your rugby team got whipped AGAIN by the english...and you are running scared that you'll have none of your usual banter when the barmy army turn up, who bless them still cheer as loudly on day 5 of the fifth test as they did on day one of the first, even if their boys are being white washed...yes by dinkum, you are allowed to stand proud and laugh in the face of defeat...it's a GAME Thats what sport's all about mate, and if you don't understand that I suggest you make the union jack on your flag a little bigger... Your whinge-ing sounds, er,.........

  • Bigbanger666 on November 16, 2010, 11:25 GMT

    If these guys were true Aussies they would quit today and make way for youth. They aren't fighters, they are selfish.

  • dummy4fb on November 16, 2010, 11:21 GMT

    hussey and north will not finish this series. I think north will go, he can go 5 matches with no scores and then score 2 hundreds, i wouldnt be surprised if hussey gets a couple of 50's here and there and just hangs on. Khawaja is screaming for selection and it is time this series to blood him in. We dont need to make wholesale changes. khawaja this series and over the next year another middle order player maybe either white, smith, and then hughes for katich. Paine will keep pressure of haddin, i think paine is a better keeper. Bowling is my concern we struggle to finish teams off and struggle taking 20 wickets needed to win. When johnson is on we win but at the moment he is struggling. Hilfy looks good, siddle is steady without being brilliant, there are some good bowlers but i like trent copeland, in 7 matches he has taken 45 wickets best 8/92 10/149 Ave 18.88 run rate 2.70 strike rate 41.8. Brilliant. and he is 6ft4. O'keefe in 9 matches taken 33 wickets 7/35 ave 25.18 sr 49.0.

  • dummy4fb on November 16, 2010, 10:35 GMT

    @Rooboy....after reading your comments..all i can say is- "WAKE UP MATE"...India jus whitewashed you...even after some of our best players were injured...England beat u guys this summer quite easily...u guys cudn't even beat Pakistan... wot are u so proud of then???... goin by current form...australia has been one of the weaker teams in cricket this year...n don't worry about the world cup...because INDIA is gonna fix your (undefeated in WC games for over a decade!) obsession!!!!!!!...

  • dummy4fb on November 16, 2010, 7:18 GMT

    @Rooboy. Yes I am aware that Wessels played for Australia 1st. I am also aware that he first came to Sydney when he was 21, by which time I think that he had already hefted the willow. I would even take a bet that he had played a little representative cricket for SA at a junior level. Incidentily his age and his story at that time are not too different from Pietersen when he arrived in England. Darryl 'Australia do not have the class of Warne or Lee'? Not sure if Brett Lee goes in that sentence as well as Mcgrath. Lee was never a great test match player and struggled to stay in the side with what is a very average record.

  • Rooboy on November 16, 2010, 2:51 GMT

    @Simon Jessup - you do realise Wessels played for Aus first before he played for SA don't you? It's just that, given this fact, your comment about him doesn't make any sense. It's laughable to hear the comparisons of Wessels and Symonds with some of the English squad ... is it really so difficult to discern between someone growing up in a country not of their birth, playing all their cricket and learning the game in that country and then getting picked to play for that country, with someone growing up in their birth country and playing all their junior cricket there, only to be poached by another country when they show some ability. Personally, I don't care. If england need to stock their team with non english born players, let them. Yes there are a lot of comments about it but as I stated in an earlier post, the sensitivity of some of the english fans responses is quite revealing.

  • johnnycash on November 16, 2010, 2:44 GMT

    There are two guys in the aussie side whom, when the battle in the middle becomes a war, put their heads down and guts it out. One of them is Simon Katich, the other is Michael Hussey. During the series when the aussies are in a spot of bother, i would rather see M.Hussey striding to the wicket, then a young guy making his debut. For Australia the obvious danger to them is Graeme Swan, a very good spin bowler, but the pitches out here won't turn much until adelaide and sydney. Australia's pace attack will have to stand up, and they will. Johnson, Hillfanhus and Bollinger, maybe Siddle. They all bowl well out here, and especially at the Gabba and in Perth. I can see a great series about to start, and start soon please so we don't have to put up with any more rubbish. I can see one side heading for a fall, and I believe it won't be the home side......

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