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Third-scene delight for Mr Cricket

Michael Hussey battles the odds to be in the Australian squad, Nikhilesh Bhattacharya reports. Lucky latecommers

india Updated: Mar 12, 2011 01:48 IST
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Nikhilesh Bhattacharya
Hindustan Times

Trust Mr Cricket to see all sides of an argument even when it comes to his own selection.

Mike Hussey could think of 'three scenarios' when left-arm pacer Doug Bollinger's World Cup ended with an ankle injury, forcing the Australian selectors to mull a replacement; only one of them saw him making a surprise return to the squad.

"I thought, would they bring a fast bowler for Bollinger? Or maybe another spinner, a left-hand spinner, to cover that area (Australia don't have one in their squad). And I also thought they might bring in a left-hand batsman in the middle-order. I was hoping it would be third option," Hussey said here on Friday.

And that is exactly what happened. Hussey, who was dropped from the original 15 because the selectors thought he would not be able to recover from a hamstring injury, found himself 'unbelievably' re-selected in Bollinger's place. He arrived in India a couple of days ago, ahead of Australia's fourth match, against Kenya here on Sunday.

Whirlwind time
It has been a whirlwind few weeks for Hussey. After the initial rejection, he spoke out to the media back home, sticking to his claim that he would be fit in time for Australia's third match. To prove his point, he played in the Sheffield Shield for his state side, Western Australia.

Meanwhile in India, after Bollinger broke down, Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he would be surprised if the replacement was not a bowler.

Asked about Ponting's reaction to the arrival of a middle-order batsman instead, Hussey said: "We've still got (left-arm pacer) Dirk Nannes coming over as a shadow player as well, so I think the selectors have pretty well covered all bases really."

Did he get in touch with Bollinger. "Yes, I've spoken to Dougie. He's obviously bitterly disappointed to be leaving the World Cup," Hussey said.

As for him, he is back jostling with, among others, his brother David for a place in the Australia middle-order, which has done pretty well so far.

"There's been no indication from the selectors yet about when I am going to play but I am just going to prepare myself so that I am ready whenever called upon."

But if Australia do decide to field him at any point in the tournament, expect nothing less from Mr Cricket either.

Not alone
Hussey is not the only one whose fortunes have swung dramatically. England's Eoin Morgan, in danger of missing the World Cup with a finger injury suffered just before the tournament, is also back as a replacement for Kevin Pietersen and the left-hander played a good hand against Bangladesh.