The most authoritative read on Michael Hussey’s life is a book titled “Driven To Succeed!”
Whosoever came up with the title (and it could be Mike Hussey himself) got it spot on.
For it’s easy to get disappointed in life. But it’s difficult to persist.
And Mike Hussey, who debuted at 29, an age where most are regular fixtures in international cricket never had it easy.
Yet he persisted.
They say do not judge a book by its cover. But in his case, you can do so and unflinchingly believe all that’s inside the cover.
Tale of pure honesty and passion
If you were to think of it, the Mike Hussey story goes far deeper or beyond than his important hard-fought runs and match-winning hundreds.
But would it have ever been easy?
Not only because he arrived late, but also since the very team of which he became a part- had the likes of Hayden, Clarke, Ponting, Watson, and Gilchrist.
A year before Mike Hussey even took his first steps for Cricket Australia, Hayden had become a world-record beater for scoring 380. Ponting, a superstar was on the verge to win a second World Cup. Gilchrist was then, as is today the man most liked by all.
And Clarke was the next best thing about Australian cricket.
Who would’ve given a newcomer who didn’t even have age on his hands a chance?
Moreover, the next crop of youngsters was ready to take their place and commence their journeys.
Think Phil Hughes, who’s sadly not with us today.
Think Adam Voges. And don’t forget the likes of Simon Katich were already established.
Yet that Mike Hussey, who turns 45 today, not only made a place for himself and but soon became a sobriquet of reliability tells us a thing or two about the fruits borne out of the grind.
In his case, you can truly say, the bat and the art of timing weren’t the only tools to success.
What also played an important hand, perhaps the most definitive one at that was sheer love for the game.
So much so that in an age where fans fancied nicknaming cricketers more often than addressing them by their actual names- Sachin still called a ‘god’, Dravid ‘The Wall’, Lara “The Prince” and Warne regarded as “The Magician”, Mike Hussey became Mr. Cricket.
Yet it mustn’t be forgotten the successes he lavishly enjoys were a result of the love for the great struggle.
The desire to make his own spot in the team, which perhaps stemmed from an unquestionable love to contribute to the pride called Baggy green.
His is a legacy that at the completion of what can be called a brief albeit fulfilling duration of 8 full years shines with 6,235 Test runs and 5,442 ODI runs, which is unless you forget the 22 centuries and 68 fifties.
Mike Hussey is significant not simply because of such heroic efforts as that 137 against the West Indies at Hobart, the 122 versus a Steyn, and Morkel-fueled South Africa at Melbourne, the back-to-back fifties against Anderson at Adelaide, or that unforgettable 195 against England at Brisbane.
Mike Hussey is significant because for all he did for Australia- a bastion of cricket that’s known to habitually produce greats- he did with valiance and full commitment.
How often have we seen someone so unaffected by defeats, and so utterly humane and sane in triumphs?
What we ought to remember about Mike Hussey aren’t just those massive innings, rather how he went about crafting them.
For someone who had plenty of shots all over and quite simply loved the square drive, Hussey’s class reflected in how he built his innings, batting patiently in Tests, rotating the strike in ODIs, and quite simply exploding in T20Is.
Just like he did 10 years back in time, at St. Lucia, in an important must-win Semi-final against Pakistan.
The big unsung effort
Who would’ve thought the watchful batsman would crush an Ajmal, Amir-led Pakistan through a 24-ball-siege that resulted in a match-winning 60?
Yet, when it comes to T20 cricket, we reserve all the love for the explosive West Indies and the ever-dangerous Kohli and Rohit.
But long before Virat even became a run-machine and Gayle became the Universe Boss, a mild-mannered bloke who didn’t quite know the meaning of ‘giving up’ waged a lone assault, bursting in an act of unexpected carnage when Australia needed 43 off 15.
Never before in the context of Australian cricket has a batsman seemed so eternally on the edge to prove himself than Mike Hussey and not since the Perth-born has there been another who’s proved himself to be the delight not just worth everyone’s while.
Interestingly, when the great Michael Bevan retired, but not before scoring nearly 7,000 runs, we thought we’d seen the figure who perhaps best described ‘the finisher,’ and that another won’t come around in light-years.
And along came Mike Hussey for opponents akin to a question that drops off apparently out of nowhere in a final exam.
Someone who fired 2,500 of his 6,200 plus Test runs from number 4 and just when you seemed content at stereotyping him as a middle-order bat he acclimatized to the changing demands of the game by contributing from not only no. 4 but no. 5 and 6 for Australia.
Hussey should be credited for stamping his might against the best in the game- whether it was the likes of Steyn and Anderson, Morkel and Malinga, Ishant and Philander, or Ashwin, Ajmal and Herath.
The same way greater attention must be given to a man who fired nearly 2000 (of his 5,400) ODI runs from number 4, never having the chance to bat for a full quota of 50 overs.
And yet that he managed to remain unbeaten in 44 of his 157 innings goes to show a thing or two about his unbridled love for batting.
Rather, in his case, using the adage ‘soldiering on’ makes more sense.
Just like it does every time when his teammates admit smilingly, “all Huss ever did was talk about cricket all the time!”
To the man who personified the art of grinding it out but always carried himself with dignity- heck, is there even a single ‘viral’ video of Hussey sledging anyone or receiving expletives- I tip my hat to Mr. Cricket.