One left-hander put his head down, bat and pad together, for a forward defensive stroke, only to watch the ball go past the silly point fielder. He hesitates as his partner decides to take the run, knowing very well that the padded jog to the other end, would mean the start of the end. Not for him, but for his 37-year old partner. In Sydney, Mitchell Johnson struck the winning run against Sri Lanka, but Michael Hussey took it, sacrificing the opportunity to take a final bow in front of an audience that wanted the script to end like a fairy tale. Team before self.
But isn’t a debut at 30 a fable on grit by itself?
To watch David Hussey’s elder brother at the crease would mean watching a focussed human being at work, unaffected by the attention around him. With the sunscreen across the left cheek, running across the bridge of his nose, a white streak under the eyes and on the lips. Symbolic of a warrior, but in place to keep the sun at bay, as he ran out to play. The quiet and self-assured intensity that Mike Hussey displayed on the field, propelled by a solid work ethic that helped him pick up a personified sobriquet, connecting him to the game he played for a living- Mr.Cricket. Better than a tattoo.
A compact stance, that began with a gentle tap of the bat, moving between the knee joints, before hitting the earth. Only to be brought back in the air quickly, for a flapping wing back lift, ready to meet the ball. The experience that would follow between the willow and leather, was similar to a handshake being offered by a karate instructor, to a nervous student on his first day at training. Like all good batsmen we liked to admire, Hussey could anticipate the length of the ball before it landed, and when he got it right, boy, he could pull a cricket ball. The right knee went out of the way, to help the gloved digits add four or six to the score sheet. Hips don’t lie.
The man knew what he was doing, and he succeeded across all three formats. The three lions in particular, were at the mercy of his time-tested tricks, when they allowed the red meat to hit the meat of his bat. So much so that even when he did make a mistake, it looked more like a parallax error that could be corrected. There was a lot of method to his batting, with measured steps taken on both feet, calculated with the spontaneity needed for extempore, but executed with the ruthless power of a well-prepared attorney. Offer him a delivery on driving length, and watch the follow through at half-mast, with the umpires doing the one-handed waltz version of the dance steps in the ketchup song.
Ambidexterity is not a skill that makes jaws drop amongst cricketers, but it takes guts for a natural right-hander to challenge his genes, and turn into a southpaw. For this, his fans must thank Allan Border, who Hussey wanted to copy and probably emulate. If this Aussie tried poker, there would be no way to tell whether he was using his strong or weak hand. He ran with purpose, when he had a helmet, and also when he had the baggy green on his head. A safe pair of hands with, and without the bat.
Age doesn’t matter.
Beamer: Hussey gave Lyon the Mike
Was the author write or wrong? Do tell him what you think on Twitter.
In Pics-Hussey one last time