Will Macpherson writes on cricket for the Guardian, ESPNcricinfo and All Out Cricket. @willis_macp
Michael Hussey has admitted that Sydney Thunder were "below ground zero" when he had joined the side. Two seasons on, he departs Thunder, having been cellar dwellers in the tournament's first four seasons, as champions. Hussey has also said that joining the club is "the best decision" he has made.
"Sometimes the most challenging and hardest decisions turn out to be the best," he said. "I've learnt so much about myself as a person and learnt so much about what it takes to build a winning team and it's been a great education for me. I'm just really proud of everyone and happy for everyone that has been involved.
"This is what you plan for and you hope to achieve but when you actually do it, it takes a bit of time for it to sink in. There's been a bit of heartache along the way, but to reach the summit with these guys has been reward for a lot of hard work, not just by the player but by the backroom staff too."
Hussey walked out to bat to a guard of honour, and left the field, with the game still not won, to a standing ovation. While flattered and a touch bashful afterwards, Hussey was, as ever, keen to deflect attention from himself, and admitted his head was thoroughly in the game.
"That was all really nice," he said. "As I was walking out it wasn't something I was expecting. So it was a nice touch. As I walked off I was more annoyed with myself for playing such a silly shot at that stage and I wanted 35 more runs. But I did think to myself I've got to give myself a couple of moments and soak this in because this is an amazing stadium to play at and as a player it's a privilege and honour to play on this hallowed turf. Soak it in, then the stress started again as we had to get those 35 runs."
Without question, Hussey leaves Thunder in good shape. They have benefitted from a well-balanced, experienced list (at an average of 33y, 52d, theirs was the oldest team to play a T20 final) that has not been hit too hard by national call-ups.
What would the younger players learn from playing with him. "A good work ethic," Hussey said."To keep calm under pressure. That it's important to have good players, but equally important to have good characters in a successful team. That's what we have tried to bestow on our players. To win humbly, be modest, be respectful of the game and each other."
There remains a nagging sense that Hussey is not quite done yet. He said ending now was "all part of the plan," but is so fit and able that it feels almost wasteful to bid him farewell. "I was going to finish last year but through succession planning and building the squad further it was prudent to play one more season. It's never been about me, it's about building the club for sustainable success. There's no point hanging on too long."