Monday, December 31, 2012

No more Mr Cricket

Michael "Mr Cricket" Hussey has announced his impending retirement; Cricinfo reports:

Michael Hussey has left the cricket world wondering why he is retiring, rather than why not. In the midst of one of his most productive summers and with his place in the team completely beyond question, Hussey, 37, will end his international career at the conclusion of the Australian summer, meaning the New Year's Test against Sri Lanka in Sydney will be his last.
It was a decision Hussey revealed he had all but made before the season began, and needed only a waning desire for the looming tours of India and England to confirm it. Known universally as "Mr Cricket", this most intense and diligent Australian batsman could not find his usual enthusiasm for the 2013 schedule, and so will exit the game on top. The hole left by Hussey's loss to the Australian batting line-up, fielding circle and dressing room is incalculable. 
"I've known for a while that I probably wanted to finish at the end of the Australian summer," Hussey told ESPNcricinfo. "I just wanted to see how I felt throughout he summer and my feelings hadn't really changed. I was looking ahead to the India series and the Ashes and I didn't have the same excitement or buzz about the challenges ahead.
"So I knew I was making the right decision because I knew my heart wasn't 100% in spending that amount of time away from home and being excited about the challenges that are going to come forward. Not very many players get to leave on their own terms, so I'm very fortunate in that respect.
"It's not so much a decision about how I'm playing, I still feel like I'm playing well. But it's more to do with everything else around the game, time away from home, the constant travel, the constant training, the constant pressures and stresses involved with international cricket as well, that eventually they take their toll on you." 

Michael Hussey was a late bloomer. Although it feels as though he has been around forever, he didn't make his international debut until he was 30; a testament to the strength of the Australian side of the mid-2000's. But the apprenticeship he had served in domestic cricket paid immediate dividends. After two years of test cricket, his batting average was in the mid-80's, and he was the fastest player ever to score his first 1000 test runs. Even today, his average sits comfortably above the magic 50 mark.

Hussey is confident that there is enough depth in Australian cricket for him to slip quietly away. We are not so sure. Players of the standing of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey are not replaceable overnight; look how long it has taken Australia to recover from the respective retirements of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. Hussey is being typically modest in understating his value to Australian cricket, especially as the test side prepares for back-to-back Ashes series.

Because his retirement was announced almost simultaneously with the death of Tony Greig, Michael Hussey has slipped under the radar somewhat. Hussey's surprise announcement has barely had a mention.

Michael Hussey and Tony Greig will both leave huge voids by their retirement and death respectively. But as the fans at Sydney salute Michael Hussey when he plays his final test there starting on Friday, we somehow doubt if they appreciate just how large that void will be.

Have a long and successful retirement Mr Cricket; it is supremely earned.

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