Perth, one of the most challenging and testing turf for any batsman to bat on, is also home to one of the most admired and gifted cricketers in world cricket. Being home to Michael Edward Killeen Hussey, a man who one would pick to bat any crisis out, the city has produced a daunting cricketer who literally exhibits the same characteristic that the keen observer of the game considers the essential ingredients of the WACA pitch: stoic, resistant, difficult to overcome and simply testing to the very core.
When Michael Hussey debuted at not such a ripe age of 30, an age where batsmen having hit the purple patch rarely soar upward from and commonly begin the climbdown having reached what is called “the peak”, a few would have expected him to have been standing proud at a literal peak of batsmanship given the role he is entrusted with. Not an opener, not a middle order bat but with an average of over 50 in both versions of the game, amassing over 5700 runs from 73 Tests and over 5200 in 180 ODI games, Mr. Cricket as he is fondly called, has become a very hard nut to crack for any bowler. Commanding Australia’s lower order is this exquisite talent and a great student of the game, Michael Hussey. For a man, who friends wittily complain talks of cricket even in sleep, it seems everything is possible to accomplish provided one has the Hussey like zeal and hunger to succeed. Often highlighted in media and cricketing circles as the best finisher of the game, Hussey’s brilliance in all sides of the wicket boasts of an amazing repertoire of shots with the trademark push on the off side, the elegant glance, the powerful muscled pull and a classy on drive challenging the supremacy of any speedster in the middle and the cricket follower off it, who claims to suffer from a lack of interest in following lower order batsmen.
A great contributor right from very start, Michael rescued Australia in his very first ODI game at home with a crucial 17* enabling the kangaroos to bite the Indian tiger’s at home. Few would have thought that when he debuted in 2005, within just 7 and a half years of test cricket, Michael Hussey would pile on 16 centuries given the fact that he comes in to bat when the Pontings, Clarkes, Warners and other world class talents have done their bit. It is downright easy for fans, commentators and cricketers to reduce a player’s significance on the basis of his performance across formats, but a rare talent like Michael Hussey makes categorization a challenging task producing memorable knocks in not just the ODIs and Tests, but also in T20s. Just as masterly as his 195 in Tests, it is not easy to forget his 60 off 24 balls versus the mighty Pakistanis in the semi finals of the 2010 T20 that secured Aussies a place in the finals with Michael seeming to be in this murderous streak. Bring any challenge, the more daunting the task, the braver this gentleman cricketer’s response.
There are two ways to judge Michael Hussey’s career in a star studded Australian line up. One that it is easy to be in headlines since you are part of this exceptionally talented high performing bunch of cricketers and the other, that it is rather difficult to make your own space and glow in that, especially having debuted in a zone when the twilight zone in your career isn’t far away and you are surrounded with big names like Rickey Ponting, David Warner, Michael Clarke, Mathew Hayden, and Adam Gilchrist. The last two were around when Hussey started. Well to have come this far and be loved in all corners Hussey seems as driven in each game as a newcomer. One would infer that Hussey’s success story is not just inspirational but breaks the regular cricketing convention.
How many could fathom a batsman who comes into bat virtually above the tail-enders to possess such an exceptional record? Either when Australia are looking on to build a formidable lead, or are embattling a follow on and even when playing for pride with all chips down, one can be sure that with the rescuer out in the middle, the team would be sailing to safer shores. With an astute commitment, a level headed approach, the will to make a useful contribution and the desire to bring glory for his side, Michael Hussey is one of cricket’s prized possessions, apart from being an obvious asset to his side. A calm demeanour and a flashy smile one too often might masquerade the steely resolve that this Aussie sports and it can be nightmarish for his competitors to take him lightly in the game. Mental toughness, hallmark of this champion cricketer also finds an interesting companion in Michael Hussey’s sheer strength. When Daryl Jackson Architects designed the Telstra Dome Stadium in Melbourne, presently known under the sponsorship title as Etihad Stadium, they didn’t probably expect that in an Australian line up starring strokeplayers like Ponting, Hayden and Symonds capable of ripping apart any attack, it would be Hussey who would become the first batsman to touch the roof with Makhaya Ntini and his side gazing skywards.
With a knack of building wonders from the bat following his principle of commitment, class and consistency, so far there hasn’t been a nemesis for this batsman and watching him play each game with the determination of a sage, the one who protects his silence and lets the action display power spiritually, it is hard to imagine when will this great career approach the final leg, a mark upon reaching would have seen many a proud faces, jubilant team mates and all around the enemy camp- shaky shoulders and exhausted legs.