Michael Hussey has revealed he arranged a formal meeting with former Australia coach, Mickey Arthur, to express concern about the direction and culture of the Australian team as early as the West Indies tour in 2012, and also conceded that his concerns hastened thoughts of retirement. During the Caribbean trip, on which the tourists won the Test series 2-0, Hussey met with Arthur to outline his worries about the way the team was progressing, foreshadowing the dire results that would occur in India and England following his retirement.
A few of Hussey's points of trouble included the development of an insular team environment where players looked out for themselves and their own positions rather than pulling together for the team, and also the emergence of a tense, unhelpful atmosphere in the dressing room. In his autobiography, Underneath the Southern Cross, Hussey writes that he did not feel his concerns were adequately addressed.
"While I was in the West Indies, I became concerned at a deeper level about how I was enjoying being in the team," Hussey wrote. "My view was always that in cricket you have to be genuinely happy for your team-mates' success. If it wasn't happening, was it the team culture or was it just a few players? I was a bit nervous about that, and organised a meeting with Mickey.
"I sat down with him and and got all my concerns out in the open. 'We need to foster a culture that makes them want to think about other people and play for the team,' I said. 'Get them out of [that] insular thinking and bring in team activities. It's about caring for each other. There's too much insular thinking; about number one only.'
"Did Mickey see it as something that could be improved? In our chat, I don't think anything I said went in. Mickey definitely listened, but he was in tunnel vision mode too. He had specific things he wanted to focus on, and anything from left field didn't register. I walked away from the meeting thinking I was glad to have got it off my chest, but it didn't go anywhere.
"It was understandable how Mickey had his specific plans, and Michael [Clarke] too, but for me it was a big early warning sign that this team had problems ahead of it. We were fostering an environment where guys only cared about their positions and didn't think about the team. The dressing room became just as stressful and tense as [it was] out in the middle. It should be a sanctuary, where you can let go and have a joke with your team-mates. Our dressing room wasn't relaxed or calm, or conducive to good play. I didn't enjoy that tension, and I'm sure some of the guys weren't enjoying it."
Through the period of Clarke's captaincy and Arthur's coaching tenure, Hussey enjoyed some of the best run-scoring form of his career, but his memoir is dotted with instances of reservations about the direction the team was taking, particularly due to several of the dictates of the Argus review. Hussey also recalls how Clarke's position as a selector, a post he has now relinquished, created an atmosphere in which players were fearful of consequences should they put a single step wrong in the dressing room.
Issues with the Australian team's direction and the attitudes of individual players were to bubble to the surface in India earlier this year following Hussey's international retirement. His earlier worries were borne out in the homework saga, David Warner's misbehaviour during the Champions Trophy in England, and the sacking of Arthur immediately before the Ashes.
Michael Hussey's autobiography, Underneath the Southern Cross, is out this week.