Hussey's last knock proves right tonic

One for prosperity … Michael Hussey strides for a run during his unbeaten knock of 27 at the SCG on Sunday. Hussey has called it quits after 79 Tests that yielded 6235 runs at an average of 51.52.
One for prosperity … Michael Hussey strides for a run during his unbeaten knock of 27 at the SCG on Sunday. Hussey has called it quits after 79 Tests that yielded 6235 runs at an average of 51.52.

AS THE audience of 10,505 found their voice in the afternoon, chanting ''Hussey, Hussey'', the focus of their adulation sat uncomfortably on the Australian team balcony in the SCG Members Pavilion. Ed Cowan and Michael Clarke were in the middle, chugging towards the modest victory target of 141. It was nothing in particular against those two batsmen; simply a demand for an encore, in his 79th and final Test, from Michael Hussey.

''I was sitting next to Mickey Arthur, telling him could we get on the loudspeaker and tell them to all be quiet,'' Hussey said. ''I wanted the two out there to just do the job and I could sit back and relax.''

The crowd got their wish when Hussey, with 37 runs required, marched to the centre. His 27 not out, the last of 6235 Test runs at an average of 51.52, steered Australia home, and it was typical of his selfless character that he did not mind that it was not him, but Mitchell Johnson, who with a push through the infield scored the winning runs.

''I was telling Mitch the over before, 'If it comes up that you hit it, I'm more than happy - let's just get this over and done with,''' Hussey said. ''I just wanted the job done. I'm more than happy just to be out there when the winning run was hit.''

Clarke and Cowan had heard the chanting loud and clear as they batted together earlier. It was one of those rare occasions where a home crowd is actually wanting badly for the demise of one of its own. They understood the sentiment.

''To be honest, I said to Ed, 'I know the feeling'. I guess 12 months ago I was booed every time I walked out to bat in Australia, so it was nothing new to me,'' Clarke said. ''They just have the utmost respect for Michael Hussey and they wanted him out in the middle to be there at the end.''

After being carried from the ground on the shoulders of Peter Siddle and Johnson, Hussey added: ''The crowd support in general has been a bit overwhelming really, and I've been a little bit embarrassed by it, to be honest.''

Hussey's international career ended abruptly on Sunday. It was coming, of course, but there had been every expectation that the 37-year-old would feature in Australia's one-day campaign before bowing out. Pragmatism at the selection table killed off that swansong. Hussey must have been disappointed but, like the team man he wants to be remembered as, said victory, by five wickets, was the ultimate way to go out.

''I would have liked to have played but the selectors spoke to me and said they're starting to look forward to the 2015 World Cup, and that's fine,'' Hussey said.

The gruelling international schedule ahead for Australia this year was the straw that broke the camel's back for Hussey's career. He simply could not bring himself to spend more than six months on the road. A more simple life is in store - interstate cricket, a sortie to the Indian Premier League, and family.

''I'm looking forward to having a bit more of a normal life as such,'' he said. ''I'm looking forward to watching the children grow up, really, and being part of their lives.''

It is the end for this Hussey, but perhaps a belated beginning for another. His brother David, at 35, is a leading contender to be his replacement in India next month. You get the impression that would give the elder sibling just about as much satisfaction as if he were himself playing.

''I guess the emotional [replacement] would be for Dave to come in and play Test cricket,'' Hussey said.

''I know he's wanted to do it for a long time, and that would be pretty amazing.''

This story Hussey's last knock proves right tonic first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.