Michael Hussey's Twenty20 Champions League duty for Chennai Super Kings has ruled him out of Western Australia's Sheffield Shield opener, against Tasmania at the WACA ground from Tuesday.
Having been the undisputed man of the series for Australia against Sri Lanka in September, plucking the match award in all three Tests, Hussey flew direct from Sri Lanka to India for the CLT20, and then back to Perth in time to train with the Warriors ahead of their first domestic fixture.
However the national selectors have decided to withdraw Hussey from the match, allowing him time to rest and rejoin his family before flying off again as part of the Australia ODI squad to face South Africa. Their decision reflects the impact of the CLT20 on player schedules, for Ricky Ponting, Xavier Doherty and Mitchell Johnson, all due to fly to South Africa at the conclusion of the Shield match, will take part having missed the T20 event.
Michael Brown, Cricket Australia's general manager, said the call was made with consideration to Hussey's workload, but also his outstanding batting form of recent times. As a point of contrast, Ponting has played nine days of cricket since the start of the Sri Lanka Test series - returning home mid-series for the birth of his second child - while Hussey has been involved in 18.
"The NSP took into account all the various factors in making this decision," Brown said. "Michael was Man of the Match in all three Test matches on Australia's tour of Sri Lanka and has just returned from the CLT20, so his recent workload has been significant. Looking at all the coming international fixtures, it was decided that it is best for Michael if he sits out this week's Sheffield Shield fixture in Perth, in advance of his Friday night flight to South Africa."
Hopes suffered a jarred knee in the Bulls' limited overs victory over the Bushrangers on Sunday night, while Lynn sustained a hamstring strain. It was thought prudent to keep the duo out of the match given that another one day fixture against Tasmania in Mackay following closely on the heels of the Shield game.
Chris Hartley, the Bulls' wicketkeeper, will captain the hosts in place of Hopes, having also deputised at times last summer.
The withdrawals took place on the same day that CA announced the healthcare group Bupa had signed on as the Shield's sponsor for the next three summers. The conglomerate replaces Weetbix after its own three-year association expired.
"Health, sport and physical activity are a logical mix - CA and Bupa objectives are closely aligned, with each being committed to promotion of healthy lifestyles," James Sutherland, the CA chief executive, said. "In particular, we are both committed to promoting physical activity as an important contributor to life-long good health.
"The Sheffield Shield has a rich tradition, is a critically important part of Australian cricket's success and it is pleasing to have Bupa's support promoting its continued success."
The company had previously been engaged by CA as the provider of health insurance for the national team.