His calm outlook, strong team qualities and ability to perform outstandingly in most situations have already sparked debate about future leadership possibilities.india Updated: Oct 23, 2006 16:29 IST
England supporters can't understand why Australia took so long to recognise Michael Hussey's Test claims. Bradmanesque in county cricket, Hussey was a less prolific and sturdier model in Australia and seemed likely to remain an unfulfilled international until the Langer-Hayden-Ponting triumvirate cracked after four years.
A fractured rib to Justin Langer gave Hussey his break following 15,313 first-class runs, a record for an Australian before wearing baggy green, and during a barely believable Test introduction he accepted the apt nickname of Mr Cricket. He also owns the mark for the fastest player to 1000 Test runs after taking only 166 days to rub out the achievement of England's Andrew Strauss.
Like Justin Langer and Graeme Wood, his predecessors as left-handed Western Australian openers, Hussey is scrupulous at practice and has a tidy, compact style. Skilled off front foot and back, he is attractive to watch once set, which occurred regularly at Northamptonshire, Gloucestershire and Durham, where he has not simply got set but set about rewriting century-old record-books.
Only the third man after Wally Hammond and Graeme Hick to amass three Championship triple-hundreds, he averaged 79 in the 2001 winter, 72 in 2002, 89 in 2003, 36 in 2004 and 76 in 2005. All the while he maintained an equally consistent but less enviable Pura Cup mark - 30 in 2000-01, 35 in 2001-02, 34 in 2002-03, 41 in 2003-04 and 55 in 2004-05.
Reinventing himself in one-day cricket as an agile fieldsman and innovative middle-order bat with cool head and loose wrists, Hussey underlined his credentials when picked in the limited-overs squad to tour New Zealand in 2005, and achieved more Bradmanesque figures when it took 29 matches for his average to drop below 100. After 11 years of first-class service his opening morning on the Test scene was a disappointment, ending with an extravagant attempted pull and a single, but he relaxed for his second match and made a deserving and attractive century.
Three more hundreds have followed, including a memorable 122 in the second Test against South Africa when he put on 107 for the last wicket with Glenn McGrath, and he currently averages in the 70s in Tests and ODIs. His calm outlook, strong team qualities and ability to perform outstandingly in most situations have already sparked debate about future leadership possibilities.