David Hussey has said he empathises with Simon Katich after the Test opener was left out of Cricket Australia's contract list on Tuesday. Hussey was one of the surprise winners in the 25-man group, regaining his national deal a year after being axed, and despite turning 34 before Australia's next tour, he remains confident that Test cricket is within his reach.
Hussey and his Victoria team-mate James Pattinson were among six players added to the contracted group, while the unlucky men to be cut included Katich and Adam Voges. Hussey said he felt for Katich, whose international career has been all but terminated by Andrew Hilditch's selection panel as they plan for the 2013 Ashes, and for his Nottinghamshire colleague Voges.
"Simon has been a fantastic player not just for Australia but in domestic cricket as well," Hussey told ESPNcricinfo from England, where he is playing county cricket. "He's a fantastic person and I know him really well. You do feel for him but I know good things happen to good people, and things will be better after cricket for him, you just know that.
"Currently I'm playing for Nottinghamshire with Adam Voges and every time I get contracted he misses out and vice-versa. We get the same bittersweet feeling. But at the end of the day we all know that cricket is a business and a game that we love and irrespective of if you're contracted or not, you're still a chance of playing for Australia."
Hussey benefited from the inclusion of Twenty20 in the contract considerations this year, while his recall to the one-day squad for the World Cup also went in his favour. Hussey still hasn't spoken to Hilditch about the promotion, which he learnt of via a voice-mail message, but he is hopeful that there could be opportunities in the longer format as well as the coloured clothing.
"I was surprised, but elated at the same time," Hussey said. "I didn't know which direction Cricket Australia were going to go, but I'm just happy to be a part of their plans for the next 12 months. I never gave up hope, that's why I'm still playing. I want to play Test cricket and until I achieve that goal I'll continue to strive to do everything possible to achieve that."
Hussey was the only older player to be added to Australia's contract list, with the remaining five new faces aged from 18 to 28. One of the most junior members of the squad is the fast bowler Pattinson, who made his ODI debut during the tour of Bangladesh in April, but still has only six first-class appearances to his name.
Pattinson's brother Darren played a Test for England in 2008 and was one of the first to hear his sibling's good news, despite being in the UK. "I actually rang him first to tell him, I was a bit over the moon," James Pattinson said. "It was 5 o'clock in the morning over there and he had a go at me for waking him. He rang me back a bit later and said well done."
The younger Pattinson believes he would be ready for Test cricket if the selectors called on him this year, but Hussey said his colleague had "a little bit of a way to go". Pattinson has been viewed mostly as a limited-overs prospect so far, and he'll be aiming to prove himself at Sheffield Shield level this summer.
"I still think he's got a little bit of a way to go to play Test cricket," Hussey said. "He's only played six first-class games but he's unbelievably talented, he bowls fast away swing and the world's at his feet. He's a very talented boy, he loves bowling and he loves working hard. You see him in the gym all the time. Hopefully this is a bit of a motivational kick for him, to step him up to a new level."
Pattinson has recently returned from India, where he was part of the Kolkata Knight Riders squad and worked with Brett Lee and the bowling coach Wasim Akram. In the Australia setup he'll be one of the junior members of a young attack, and he said he was looking forward to the chance to be part of Australia's long-term plans.
"I'm honoured to get a contract with Australia," Pattinson said. "I'm still a bit speechless. I was up in the gym having a ride on the bike and I got the phone-call from Andrew [Hilditch]. The way the selection panel has gone, they've picked a lot of young blokes in the squad. I think they're just looking forward and pushing towards the next Ashes and upcoming series, to put Australian cricket back on track and win the Ashes and bring it back home."