Michael Hussey started his international test career with a bang, in the Frank Worrell Trophy, 2005/06, against the West Indies, when they travelled to Australia. In 3 matches he compiled 361 runs at an average of 120.33, including 2 centuries. The West Indian’s failed to dismiss him on 3 occasions during the series, and Hussey announced to the world how great a batsman he is.
When South Africa toured Australia in late 2005, Hussey was consistent with the bat, scoring 279 runs at 55.80 in 3 outings, including a half century and a century. If he hadn’t proven himself against the West Indies, where there were doubters, he silenced critics against an attack including Pollock, Ntini, Nel, Langeveldt, Boje, Botha and part timers Kallis and Kemp.
Then in early 2006, Australia travelled to South Africa. Hussey again impressed, scoring 257 runs at an average of 64.25. Whilst he failed to make a century in the tests, he scored 3 fifty’s, including a top score of 89.
In mid 2006 Australia travelled to Bangladesh, where the sub standard bowlers were easy picking for Hussey. He averaged 80.66 and scored his career best to day 182 on his way to 242 runs in 2 games, scoring a touch under 70 runs per 100 balls.
Then Hussey achieved one of the biggest moments of an Australia cricketers life, being selected for an Ashes tour. He took the opportunity with both hands, and from late 2006 to early 2007 he destroyed the enemy, scoring 458 runs, averaging 91.60, pounding a century and 3 fifty’s in the 5 match series, helping Australia win the Adelaide test on the last day with a terrific knock of 61 of 66 deliveries proving vital. Australia needed to chase 168 from 36 over’s, which after his 91 in the first innings, didn’t seem to faze Hussey, as with Ponting he turn the match in Australia’s favour after England scored 5/551 in the first innings, helping in Australia’s reply of 513 and the final chase on the last day.
Then in late 2007 Hussey participated in the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy against Sri Lanka, in which the Australian’s denied Muralidaran of his 700th test wicket, with Hussey not only out doing Muralidaran, but also scoring a mammoth 299 runs at an average of 149.50 in only 2 tests, including 2 centuries, his top score for the series 133.
At this point, Hussey was on top of the world, averaging 86.18 after 18 test matches, including with 7 hundreds and 8 fifty’s. Then everything hit the decline.
He averaged 48.33 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, no mean feat, but way off his Bradmanesque figures leading up to then. It was against the West Indies in mid 2008 that cracks started to appear. He averaged a mere 22.83 against a relatively poor attack, scoring only a single fifty from 6 innings, and scoring only 37.43 runs per 100 balls.
He seemed to be picking himself up again when Australia toured India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, scoring 394 runs at 56.28, with 1 century and 3 half centuries. His strike rate was again on the up, but it wasn’t long until everything went downhill.
Against New Zealand in late 2008, he scored 105 runs at 35, beginnings a major decline. He started to look out of sorts, but most people just though it was a bad patch of form that would wear off soon.
Then South Africa toured, and destroyed him, in his 6 innings he managed 85 runs, with a top score of 45* and an average of 17. He looked particularly poor and scratchy, playing at balls he should, getting edged more regularly and making generally poor decisions and shot selections. He said he felt good in the nets, but unfortunately it wasn’t working for him in the middle. By the conclusion of this tour, his average had declined to 59.36, but worse was in store.
He then toured South Africa, and didn’t do much better, scoring 132 in his 6 innings at an average of only 22. He scored a solitary 50, and calls to drop him started to emerge and have more force behind them.
Then, he geared up for the Ashes. After last Ashes, where he pummelled the Poms for an average of 91.60, people had high expectations that he could regain form. In the first test, he scored 3 in his only innings, and now there are strong rumours going around that all rounder Shane Watson, who missed the first test due to injury, will be replacing him. Before the series, I predicted that he will average 35-45, but also said if he fails again, he should be dropped.
So what lies next for Michael Hussey? His current test average of 54.35 is still up there with the best, but is a far cry from 120.33 after his first 3 tests, and 86.18 after 18. At 34, this Ashes series could be the end of his Test career, if he continues to perform poorly. He will struggle to come back into the side at his age if he does get dropped.
Personally, I would be moving him to number 5, with Clarke moving up to 4. Hussey has averaged 78.00 at 5 in 12 matches with 3 centuries, and 46.19 at 4 with 5 centuries in 13 more games, 25 in total.
So the question remains, where to next for Mr Cricket, Michael Hussey?