Friday, January 11, 2008

Hussey brothers to play T20 for Australia

Younger brothers often want to be like their older siblings, although the desire typically disappears before adulthood. But for the past four years David Hussey has craved the chance to emulate his big brother Michael and burst into the Australia cricket team. Finally, he has an opportunity to do so.
Hussey's call-up into the Twenty20 squad for Friday's international against India is much-deserved, and any thought that his surname helped him get there would be severely misguided. It has been anything but easy living in the shadow of Mr Cricket, who made his first-class debut at 19 and had such an impact at Test level that his average is second only to Don Bradman.
It is unfair to compare the brothers, as they have grown into fundamentally different people since their childhood days playing backyard cricket in the outer Perth suburb of Mullaloo. Michael, a left-hand batsman, is an obsessive planner whose mind is constantly racing with instructions to himself; the right-handed David is more laid-back and once while standing in as Victoria's captain admitted at the toss that he hadn't even checked his team sheet to see who was playing.
Perhaps he was still overwhelmed at leading his adopted state after several years earlier venturing 3500 kilometres from Perth to pursue his career in Melbourne. It took consistently high scoring at the Prahran club before Hussey was given a chance by Victoria at the age of 25. Similarly, ridiculous aggregates in county stints at Nottinghamshire and sporadic flashes of brilliance in Australia were ignored by the national selectors until he found greater consistency.
Enough was enough after 911 runs at 53.58 for Victoria last season, 643 at 64.30 so far this summer, as well as 237 runs at 47.40 and a strike rate of 153 in this month's Twenty20 tournament. Merv Hughes, the Melbourne-based selector, has seen plenty of Hussey and knows he is arguably the prototype Twenty20 cricketer.
His aggressive batting is complemented by offspin that is superior to most part-timers, and he is one of the most gifted fieldsmen in the country. A strong bottom-hand batsman, Hussey is sometimes in such a hurry to score that it's like he has just remembered his car is in a tow-away zone and he knows he'll have to walk home if he doesn't finish the game as soon as possible.
He loves to get on the front foot and lean in to drive to either side, but he is equally unafraid to swing the ball over midwicket. Hussey's strike-rate of 141 in 44 Twenty20 matches is remarkable, and he brings the same gusto to the longer forms. His greatest moment came in 2003-04 when he guided Victoria to a fourth-innings chase of 455 against New South Wales and his unbeaten 212 came from only 218 balls.
Since that moment the younger Hussey - he is now 30 - has been talked about as a potential international player. Victorian fans were often parochial in their calls for Dean Jones to be recalled to the national set-up and their bewilderment at Hussey being overlooked until now is not surprising.
Fittingly, his debut in Australian colours will come at his adopted home ground, the MCG. Hussey has come a long way from Mullaloo, physically and chronologically, and Australia could not ask for a more exciting pair to become the first brothers to represent the country since Steve and Mark Waugh