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Cricket news - Australia prides itself on its running - Hussey
"The focus in our team is running between the wickets - that's what this team prides itself on" - Hussey
Michael Hussey. In the Australian T20I realm, he is widely known for a whirlwind innings in a T20 WC semifinal, that drove Australia to the final of the tournament that they would go on to lose. However, in Justin Langer's tenure as Australia's coach, he has seen it fit to get several players that the current lot has grown up idolizing to motivate the incumbent side, and keep them driven to achieve their goals with a constant reminder of why they took up the game, lurking around in the dressing room.
"We loved having them (ex-players) come into the dressing room after a Test match, present caps, or just listen to them talk about the game, just old stories, it was fantastic," reminisces Hussey, about his playing days. "It's a very good initiative from JL (Langer). Sometimes just a different voice clicks with someone else. There might just be one little thing that they say that you can take and add to your game. I think it's really valuable, and it keeps the past players engaged in the team and in the game. I hope the guys get something out of it as well."
Hussey, who joined the T20 side in October 2019 as batting mentor before the T20I series against Sri Lanka, expressed his gratitude for being involved with the Australian T20 setup, thankful for the opportunity to give back to Australian cricket after a successful career as a player.
"I'm hoping to stay involved with the T20 team, leading up to and through the World Cup. A lot of excitement, with the T20 WC on our own doorstep, not too far away , so they're really focused, driven to do well and motivated to get a chance to be in that squad and have a chance of winning the World Cup. I'm not exactly know what my title is - mentor, batting coach - but I don't really mind. I just want to get in there and help them as much as I can, and throw a lot of balls I guess (smirks)."
Hussey was a typically diplomatic when asked who his favourite student was, but picked out Matthew Wade as one of the players he'd played with, and therefore understood his growth curve, and backed him to encash his terrific run of form and cement his spot in the middle order.
"I have played with Matthew Wade, and I like the place he's in at the moment. He's got a great understanding of his game and he also has perspective of life in the game - It's not the be all and end all, but cricket's still very important to him. He's playing beautifully. I'm glad that he's got an opportunity and I really hope he can take the opportunity and cement his place in the middle order because he's playing brilliantly at the moment."
The veteran middle-order batsman reckons that the team is in a good headspace at the moment, and that they have had a T20-heavy Big Bash season behind them to keep them on their toes in the format. Hussey also praised the South African team's merit, particularly in their own conditions
"Obviously a lot of the guys coming off the Big Bash are playing good T20 cricket and as I said the motivation is really high because this team is going to be together now for a number of games upto the T20 WC. It will be a tough challenge. South Africa is a very good team. They're coming off some tough cricket against England in home conditions. It'll be a wonderful series - two very good teams, going head to head, it's must-watch."
When asked about the change in playing conditions, Hussey was far more enthusiastic, speaking in detail about how much the altitude influences the playing conditions, and perhaps even the physiology of the players - not to mention the traveling ball at a higher altitude, that will pose an unpleasant surprise for the bowlers.
"I think the boys are a bit tired from yesterday's session, just getting used to the altitude. It's something we don't have to contend with in Australia. So yes, it is different. For a number of guys, it's their first time here. so it's a great experience for them - playing in another country, and playing in different conditions. It is very different at an altitude - the ball does really travel. From a batting point of view they will really enjoy it, the bowlers maybe not as much (laughs)."
Hussey was confident that running between the wickets would be key in the T20 WC, but insisted that there were different ways of keeping the run-rate high in different conditions. He further went on to say that the team prides itself on its running between the wickets, but refrained from letting the cat out of the bag in the end.
"India, for instance, is completely foreign to what we're used to playing in and so you have to find a different way to score those 10-12 runs an over. The focus in our team is running between the wickets - that's what this team prides itself on, particularly Davey (Warner) and Steve Smith, and Maxwell. They're brilliant runners," said Hussey, with unmistakable appreciation in his eyes. "So it's about the balance, knowing when you can hit a six or a four, but certainly with the big grounds it's not easy to just stand there and smash it out of the park. It'll be a point of difference for the teams, but I don't want to let out too many secrets until the end of the World Cup."
Posed with a slightly more technical question about spinners coming into play at the coast, Hussey agreed that they were likely to be more effective at sea level than at a higher altitude, but refrained from making any premature calls ahead of the first T20I, insisting that world-class spinners could be effective regardless of the conditions.
"I'm not a selector. There will be a lot of discussion about it, but the spinners will be more effective down there (at sea level) than here (Jo'burg). But if you have world-class spinners then I don't think it really matters. I've been watching Shamsi, and he's pretty darn good in any conditions. We have had Zampa and I think he's done a wonderful job in the last few years. I think a top quality spinner can be effective in any conditions," concluded Hussey.
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