Low scores against Proteas provide little fuss for Hussey

MICHAEL HUSSEY says his 2009-10 career renaissance against England, which he produced despite struggling badly in the preceding Ashes series, will hold him in good stead against the team that is now his greatest nemesis: South Africa.
Nanjing Night Net

In Hussey’s debut Test season, in 2005-06, the then 30-year-old faced the Proteas in home and away series and came away with a hefty batting average of 59.56.

Since then, however, the left-hander has not passed 50 in 16 innings across three series: the loss at home in 2008-09, the win away immediately afterwards and then last year’s 1-1 draw.

Over that period Hussey’s average against South Africa has been a meagre 18.47. While he has fallen in single figures in half of those knocks he has made at least 20 in seven of the others, indicating he has been able to get a start against the Proteas’ pace-dominated attack but never survived long enough to match his overall healthy conversion rate of a 50-plus score every three innings.

”There’s no point in worrying or stressing about anything in the past because there’s enough things to worry and stress about when you’re out in the middle in a Test match anyway,” the veteran said on Wednesday as he prepared to lead Western Australia in their Sheffield Shield match away to Victoria.

In the 2009 Ashes loss Hussey averaged a mediocre 34.50, although almost half of his runs for the five-match series came in the last Test.

Hussey started the next Ashes series 15 months later under severe pressure to hold his spot and responded by averaging 63.33 in a team that lost heavily. Based on that outcome, he said he would take the same approach at the start of this home season.

”I have tried doing that before,” Hussey said. ”Against England I’d had a mediocre season and I was getting all worried about it and then ended up performing a lot better against them next time.

”The Test matches we’ve played against South Africa in South Africa have been extremely difficult for batting. I’m expecting the pitches in Australia to be very good, very true, and if you get in and get through that initial period there’s no reason why a few of the guys can’t go on and get big scores.”

While Australia boast four specialist pacemen in their squad for the first Test alone, South Africa have brought the same number for the entire three-Test series: the big three of Dale Steyn, Vernon Philander and Morne Morkel, with the uncapped Rory Kleinveldt in reserve.

Hussey knows little of 29-year-old Kleinveldt – ”From the footage, he’s a big guy and looks like a very good bowler as well,” he said before downplaying the importance of that, or there being no reinforcements, because the quality of the Proteas’ first-choice pace battery was undisputed.

”They’ve got a proven attack that’s done the business over quite a period of time. They’re seasoned, hardened Test-match cricketers. They know their recovery, they know their preparation very well. I’m sure they’ve got a lot of confidence in those guys staying fit for the whole series.”

The Shield match starting on Thursday will be Hussey’s first red-ball match since the April Test tour of the West Indies. His only recent practice experience was net sessions with Test teammate Ben Hilfenhaus while they represented Chennai.

While his Champions League stint with the Super Kings seemed pointless, as he played only one match due to the depth of the Super Kings’ squad, Hussey pointed out there would have been little alternative for him in Australia as WA were on a Shield sabbatical due to Perth’s Champions League participation.

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