Though Australia's XI for the first Test against New Zealand is flushed with youth, Michael Hussey has admitted it lacks the familiarity and closeness of past teams. After being part of a torrid net session in which the captain Michael Clarke was tested by Ben Cutting, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson, Hussey said the team's newest members were still trying to get comfortable.
Hussey said he and others like Clarke and Ricky Ponting needed to make the quartet of tyros - the opening batsman David Warner is the other debutant - feel welcome in order for the team to gel successfully on the field from Thursday.
"I think it's a really important role of the senior guys to make these young guys feel as welcome as possible and as comfortable as possible, because it probably is a bit daunting for the younger guys," Hussey said. "Today was all about trying to make them feel like they deserve to be here, that they're good enough to be here, and to enjoy being part of the Australian cricket team.
"I'm looking forward to getting to know them as people and players over the next five days - and hopefully over the whole summer. They just bring so much excitement and enthusiasm into the group - it lifts a lot of the other [established] guys. They're champing at the bit to get the opportunity to play for Australia and get that baggy green cap."
Cutting made a particular impression on Hussey and Clarke, introducing them to one of the more feared bouncers in the Sheffield Shield. "It was actually the first time I've ever faced him," Hussey said. "He was very impressive. There's plenty of motivation for him to charge in in the nets with a baggy green up for grabs. He hit the bat hard, bowled with good pace, got a little bit of movement. It felt very fast. There was a bit of movement on those tracks out there so it was a proper workout.
"I thought all the [young pace] bowlers bowled pretty well today, just from watching. I did enjoy it. You need to get that sort of a challenge leading up to a Test match to simulate your training so it's like what you'll get out in the middle. It certainly gets the adrenalin rushing, that's for sure."
New Zealand have recognised the challenge of adjusting to the sharp bounce on offer at the Gabba and Hussey said it was perhaps the single biggest factor behind Australia's imposing record at the ground. They have not lost a Test in Brisbane since 1988.
"We have got a very proud record here," he said. "All the guys get very excited for the start of the Australian summer, which is always here at the Gabba. I think we really enjoy playing in the fast, bouncy conditions. We adapt to those conditions very well. We've played a lot of our first-class career on faster pitches, whereas [for] teams from around the world it does take a bit of time [to adjust] if they've been playing on slower pitches, to then come to the quicker pitches.
"I always found it tough after a county season playing on slower pitches in England, coming straight back to Australian conditions," Hussey said. "It took me quite a bit of time to get used to the quicker pitches. I think it's easier to adapt going from faster pitches to slower pitches. That's probably one of the reasons we've had a good advantage over international teams."