The friendly but feisty Michael Hussey is still fresh-faced and fighting fit. Fans continue to swarm this popular Aussie. “It is wonderful to be back in Chennai to renew friendships,” said the 37-year-old Hussey even as he extended a warm handshake. There is this unmistakable genuineness about the man who has retired from international cricket to spend more time with his “young family.”
Given his ability to adapt — he has 6235 runs in 79 Tests at 51.52, 5442 in 185 ODIs at 48.15 and 2369 in 88 T20 matches at 38.33 — it is not surprising that Hussey is an asset for Chennai Super Kings (CSK). He possesses the rare ability to get his runs in a hurry even while providing stability to the line-up.
Hussey did not shy away from tough questions when he spoke to The Hindu here on Friday. Queried about the absence of the Sri Lankan cricketers for the matches in Chennai, Hussey replied, “It’s a shame. The Sri Lankan players have nothing to do with what happened or not. The Sri Lankan players, like the others, just love playing the game. CSK itself will be without Nuwan Kulasekara, who I believe, is an extremely useful bowler in these conditions.” Predictably, the conversation moved to the plight of the Australian team. What was his take on the dropping of four players for the third Test in Mohali?
Hussey said: “I think the decision should have been kept behind closed doors. The players could have been punished differently. Like lapping the ground till it really hurt, or having to pay a fine. I think all the publicity the move got ahead of a crucial Test proved a distraction to the players. It was not good for the morale, or the spirit of the team. It should have been handled differently.”
Did he feel Michael Clarke’s men did not display the typical Aussie on-field aggression for most part of the series? “When the players are unsure of their places in the team, just trying to settle into the side’s culture, it is hard to show that kind of aggression,” Hussey said.
He was willing to give time to the young batsmen in the side, though. “When the ball turns and you are new to the conditions in India, you do not know which delivery has your name on it. That is why you need to kick on after starts. I must say I was disappointed by some of the shot selection. It was hard for me to watch the Australian team beaten in this fashion.”
Hussey, however, has good words about Michael Clarke’s captaincy. “He is clear about what he wants and the direction in which he wants to take his team. This is important for a leader. But, filling the shoes of a giant like Ricky Ponting is never going to be easy.”
He conceded, though, that Australia could face a tough time finding replacements for the legends. “People ask me about Shane Warne’s successor, but how are you going to do that? Somebody like Warnie comes once in a lifetime.”
Keeping in touch
Hussey revealed that he was in touch with his CSK teammates in the Indian team during the Test series.
“I told them I wanted them to do well personally but Australia to win matches. But, the Australians lost every match! I think Dhoni’s double hundred was a series-defining innings when the first Test was in the balance. It hurt the Australian side psychologically.”
He talked about the potential in Ravindra Jadeja, the maturing of Ravichandran Ashwin in the last one year and the stunning comeback of Murali Vijay. “Vijay, actually, just needed an opening. I love watching him bat,” Hussey said.
“I want to be a part of CSK as a player or in whatever role for the next two or three years at least. I just love it here,” said Hussey.