Michael Hussey, Farewell.

With his place not in doubt for future series, Michael Hussey has decided to retire from Test cricket. His last appearance for the Baggy Greens will be the final Test versus the Sri Lankans at the SCG. Not hearing any rumours of the decision I was initially very surprised. Then, I smiled. There’s back-to-back Ashes series coming up and this Englishman is happy the number 6 slot has opened up.

This is paying great respect to a cricketer who not only came late to Test recognition, but to my own. It was a catch of his out in the deep followed by ball in raised hand salute, forefinger out running back to the wicket. I’d not seen to many celebrations amongst the Australian team quite like it before. Plenty of high fives and hugs, Brett Lee’s frankly camp salmon leap and, of course, Warnie shaking his stump, and his rump, at Trent Bridge but nothing looking like it belonged on a football pitch.

Mr Cricket had his dips in form but his passion and dedication has enabled him to reach the heights once again. It is these traits the Australian selectors, team and fans are going to miss through a tough 12 months ahead.

After showing the world he was once a great batsman, Ricky Ponting took an achingly slow 18 months to realise his contribution wasn’t enough anymore. Or did someone else dawdle to that conclusion? But Hussey has decided to call it a day when his place isn’t under pressure. It’s a strong mind to allow yourself this luxury. What high scores or great Tests are on the horizon? A sweat-drenched, attritional battle against spin versus India? A fierce showdown that goes beyond the 150kmph cherry being launched in the motherland and then back home in hope of winning the smallest sporting trophy known to man?

But it is exactly these mentally and physically testing tours that Michael Hussey wishes to relieve himself of for the joys of spending time with his young family, who after nearly a decade of him wearing the Baggy Green will be delighted to have their husband and father home more often.

By no means will England walk away with another Ashes win or two, but it does suggest it may be easier. Since the retirements of Hayden, Langer, McGrath et al Australia has hailed each newcomer to heights almost beyond their predecessors, only to see then fail and be replaced by the next great Australian player. Back in 1989, England picked 29 players during one Ashes series, we’re well aware of what a dearth of talent can do. But choosing an acceptable limited overs player for the Test arena on account of being a bit of a mongrel and good in the dressing room is not a recipe for No.6 success. Ask Steve Smith.

England warm up for the Ashes with a visit to the island of the long white cloud, then the Kiwis visit the long grey one, whilst Australia tour India. Not great planning to warm a player up for back-to-back Ashes series. One thing Michael Clarke’s Australia do have to stop them looking like they’re bringing a knife to a gunfight, will be their bowling. The attack isn’t full of star pacemen taking five or more wickets per innings but it does have five men capable of taking two or three each. Siddle, Pattinson, Hilfenhaus, Lyon and even Johnson – as long as he can back up his current one match hot streak without the usual two year intercession – plus any of the others Clarke used in trying to dislodge the stubborn South Africans. Is it enough to pick up twenty casualties per match over a five Test series? Hard to say, but there is hope.

First though, I wish for plenty of fans at the SCG to cheer and send off Michael Hussey, and the Sri Lankans are as generous as The Proteas were in their appreciation of the retiring Punter. Hussey deserves it, and all the accolades that will follow. Most of all, his family deserve him.

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