Hussey expects aggression from Clarke
Michael Hussey expects Michael Clarke to be a positive and aggressive leader in his first outing as Australia's Test captain on Monday. Clarke gained the post following Ricky Ponting's withdrawal with a broken finger and will be in charge of a young outfit that has the job of levelling the Ashes series at the SCG.
Clarke is the team's most experienced player with 68 Tests, while Hussey, one of only two men in the squad over 30, has appeared in 10 fewer matches. Hussey said it would be strange walking on to the ground without Ponting, but he is confident Clarke will be a strong replacement.
"He'll be an aggressive captain, always looking to take wickets out there, make changes to the field and with the bowlers," Hussey said. "He'll be searching for a wicket all the time, and will always want the game going forward. That's the way Australians have played our cricket as long as I can remember. I think he'll be a very positive captain."
Clarke has been successful in the limited-overs arenas and was in charge of Australia's journey to the final of the World Twenty20 in the West Indies in May. He also has 13 victories in 18 ODIs as leader and has been able to impress his team-mates with his high-energy style.
"I guess the challenge is to be able to maintain that over the five days," Hussey said. "It's going to be a hard old graft. But we have 100% confidence in him. I think he's done a really good job when he's captained the team so far in his career." This Test assignment is more complicated because it comes at a time when Clarke is struggling for runs, having scored 148 in seven bats against England.
England retained the Ashes with their victory in Melbourne last week, and Hussey hopes the Sydney Test will be the start of Australia's revival. "Our focus is trying to get it back to 2-2 - I think that would be a real morale-boosting win for us," he said. "We've got to get better. We hope our Test team is going to get better over the next 12 months to two years, but the process starts now. Unfortunately, we can't win the Ashes, but if we can get it back to a two-all series leveller, it will be a good result for us."
Hussey, who is 35, was particularly disappointed after the MCG defeat. "It's the Ashes and the biggest thing you play for," he said. "I hope I get another opportunity to have another go at it. But I don't know if I will, so that is a pretty hard thing to start thinking about."
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo