David Hussey’s future lies in Twenty20 cricket

David Hussey does not want to join the ranks of freelance Twenty20 players, but concedes he may have no other option as part of Victoria’s squad transition.
Nanjing Night Net

The veteran is about to take part in his most significant match of the past year, when Melbourne Stars host Hobart Hurricanes in a Big Bash League semi-final on Tuesday night – and he hopes another on Friday night, in the final.

But looming large is the Indian Premier League auction to be held on February 12.

Hussey’s six years in the IPL have been remarkably settled, spending the first three years with Kolkata and the past three with Punjab. For this season, he was one of many international players to be released, putting him back into the auction.

The right-hander has had a prosperous career – on and off the pitch – in Twenty20. Even in this season’s BBL he has averaged a lofty 62.50 at better than a run a ball, although that is largely because his Melbourne Stars top-order teammates have been performing so well his only substantial innings was his unbeaten 50 in the second-round win against the Sydney Sixers.

Beyond that, from his new position at No.5, he has never faced more than 18 deliveries, but has boasted such a high average because he has been dismissed only twice in his six innings.

The reason this year’s IPL is so significant for Hussey, 36, is because it could end up as his primary wage if he is among contract casualties at the end of the season for Victoria, last on the Sheffield Shield ladder.

Given Hussey’s robust record, his base price of 3 million rupees ($54,600) seems extremely good value, even for IPL teams that may not guarantee him consistent selection as one of their four international players.

As soon as Hussey was dropped by the Bushrangers’ shield team in November, the obviously conclusion was for him to follow former state teammates Brad Hodge and Dirk Nannes in prioritising freelance Twenty20 opportunities.

But given Hussey has held on to his dream of playing Tests for Australia until only recently, his determination to still keep playing in whites is understandable , despite confirmation that when Victoria has a full-strength shield team he will be on the outskirts of it.

”I still enjoy playing. I love batting, I’m still very, very competitive … it’s probably just a different phase of my cricket. I still want to contribute to the team and still want to win,” he said.

”Everyone has setbacks in life. Mine was a big dream, to play Test cricket for Australia, but I know now it’s not going to happen. But I’ve got other things to worry about in my life now: a wife to look after, and the kids as well.

”Maybe I have to reassess my goals and focus on the Twenty20 side, but at the moment I still want to contribute to Victoria.”

Hussey said that while the Stars’ hopes of winning the BBL and qualifying for the Champions League were in the balance, the IPL auction would not be a distraction for him, especially as the Stars were beaten in their past two semi-finals.

One key on-field change for Hussey since he was dropped was that it eased the apprehension he had felt since the winter when he suspected ”something was happening” about his place in the state’s pecking order.

”Probably more relaxed … I know that I’m in and out of the team now – that’s my role,” he said.

Off-field, he has sought advice about life after cricket, and also placed a greater focus on completing the final three units of a degree in sports science and sports management.

”I’m in the 16th year of a four-year course,” he joked. ”For me, life after cricket is nerve-racking, but it’s an exciting time as well.”

Besides Victoria, the IPL and BBL, his main goal is to play in the Caribbean Premier League, a West Indies Twenty20 competition that began last August. England, where he has spent most of the past decade, is a less-attractive option because Twenty20 matches will be played every Friday night over three months rather than in isolation like most other competitions.

Hussey is resigned to rivals targeting his perceived weakness for short-pitched fast-bowling – not that he is at all perturbed by that prospect.

”I like asking former teammates’ and [current] rivals’ plans for me,” he said. ”It’s pretty much ‘start with some bumpers, mix up his feet early and then just don’t bowl spin to him’. It is comical, but it’s something you try to prepare [for] the best you possibly can.

”I actually saw a pitch map of where I’ve scored my runs in the Big Bash and one-day cricket, and surprisingly – or maybe not surprisingly – I’m striking at about 240 for the short ball, so hopefully they continue bowling short to me.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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