Ian Bell and Shaun Marsh are running away with the game. Hussey needs one of his bowlers to step up the same way Mitchell Johnson did earlier in the day. But it wasn’t to be. His team, the Melbourne Stars, made the semis for the 6th time out of 6, and lost in it for the 5th time out of six, the streak broken up by a defeat in the finals.
Hussey was planning on retiring at the end of the tournament anyways, but it came a game sooner than he would’ve liked. The retirement came on a dour note rather than a euphoric one. 28529 runs across all formats in a career that spanned almost 15 years went with it. David Hussey was a living legend, one that we wouldn’t get to see again.
A year earlier, Michael Hussey was watching in the dugout as his team, the Sydney Thunder, comfortably the worst of the 8 teams over the preceding 4 seasons, needed 4 from the last over to win BBL05. 2, dot, 6 then Hussey came out with the rest of his team to celebrate.
Everyone knew it was his last game, but he hadn’t announced it before then. With the BBL won, against his brother’s team, he officially announced that this would be his last game in Australia. When he went unsold at the IPL auction, he retired from everything. 39475 runs went with him, made over 21 years.
Michael was two years senior. He wouldn’t have played cricket for the first time for years after he first did if it weren’t a happy accident: his dad had to, and he had never played cricket before, so he practiced some bowling to little Michael, the only one of the brothers who could stand and walk properly at the time.
Michael immediately looked like he had a future in the game. His dad was no expert, but Michael was hitting pieces of gravel with a wooden stick and looking good while doing it. Seeing his eldest son’s enthusiasm and talent for cricket, Ted (his dad) upgraded the cricket equipment from homemade gravel balls to tennis balls, and from pieces of wood to homemade bats.
Ted’s awful bowling became excess too, but David had grown up enough by then to do the job of bowling to Michael during his marathons. But David had an advantage, Michael wanted to play, so David could threaten to not play at all unless he batted first. These games were grudge matches; both wanted to do nothing but bat, and tantrums were natural since they were young kids.
Neither would admit to nicks, they’d chase each other around the backyard when one of them thought the other was clean out, David would lock himself in the car sometimes because he didn’t want to bowl to Michael.The pitch they played on was awful, and the reluctance to bowl for hours made survival on a pitch that did everything was integral to both of the brothers’ development and their signature styles came from it.
David would charge and charge at Michael since he wanted nothing more than to beat him, Michael would wait and wait and wait until David erred, then capitalize on it.
Michael played organized cricket first:for the U12s of a local club. He was smaller than most, so he relied on his defense. His coach and dad both told him to focus on technique and defense; everything else would come later when he’s stronger. Michael listened well, and his big runs came later.
Ted never played cricket until much later in life, but he influenced both of the siblings’ careers in a large way. He saw that cricketers run a lot, so, as a former athlete (in athletics), he taught the brothers the proper stance for running, which would also get their feet moving in the crease and help with quick singles.
He saw that the best cricketers were tough, physically and mentally, so he had them wake up early in the morning on Sundays to run through sandy hills, swim at the beach, lifting weights at an old, broken down gym, with rusted barbells in a cold and damp environment. Ted did everything he could to make his sons successful in a sport he had no interest in and when he passed in late 2014, Michael and David lost not only their beloved father, but the man who shaped both of their careers.
Michael’s childhood hero was Allan Border. Michael started as a right handed but switched to left in order to bat like Border. And growing up in Perth, Michael and David both had an excellent advantage being in the late 70s: the explosion of indoor cricket. For someone as obsessed as him, it meant that he had nets available all day all year.
By now, he had a coach too so he would go practice there with him a few times a week, playing around 1000 balls a week, almost the equivalent of 2 days worth of tests. He went a step further one day when his club had a game cancelled; he set up a 6 hour session, divided into 3 two hour sessions like a test, where he just batted and batted with the coach feeding balls into the bowling machine. His coach fell asleep by the end of it, but when he woke up and asked where Michael went, he was told that, “He went for a run.”
Michael played his first game for Western Australia in 1995. He made 16. But over the next three years, he scored much more, averaging over 40 in the subsequent three seasons which earned him an A team call up. On one of them, Allan Border jokingly said that the boys on tour should learn how to bat a full day.
Michael took his words to heart and repeated what he did a few years earlier by batting 6 hours in the nets split up into 2 hour sessions. Two more good seasons followed, then came a county contract for Northamptonshire. In his first season, he broke the county record for the highest score, when he made 329*. He made another triple next season, and then broke his own record the season after that.
All 3 of his triples were unbeaten, and they all came in England for Northamptonshire, who he would part ways with after 2003. He had proven himself to be a master of English conditions, but he struggled more in Australia. 2005-06 would be the first time he made a double ton in Australia, and only the second time (and first time since 1999-00) that he averaged over 50 in a Shield season (for comparison, the only time he averaged under 60 in England was in 2004).
But things looked up in 2005. He got his nickname of “Mr Cricket” that season when playing for Durham, because of his unmatched love for the game, and after a strong start to the season, he was picked to replace Justin Langer for the first test of the summer.Almost two years after first representing Australia in ODIs where, after a year, his numbers were extraordinary (18 matches, and average of 123.5), he was finally playing his first test.
He had made more first class runs than any other Australian making their test debut and in only his second test, he made his maiden hundred. A legendary career was launched, if later than it should’ve.
David played his first full season in 2003-04. He was playing for Victoria, having moved there a few years ago from Perth. David was not his brother, and that was evident in many ways. David was far more aggressive, his maiden hundred was a double that came at almost run a ball to marshal a chase of 452, he didn’t have Michael’s undying enthusiasm for the game (but few people did), and his conversion was a problem.
Michael hit 3 unbeaten triple centuries in 3 years, David never made one. David’s strongest point was his consistency; between 2003-04 and 2007-08, which includes county stints for Nottinghamshire whom he eventually captained, only twice did he average under 40.
But like Michael, he was overlooked for far too long, and his strongest moments came in England, not least his 2004 winter, where he made 7 hundreds in 17 games, and his three highest scores, 275 off only 227 (in 2007), 251* (in 2010), and 232* (in 2005).
His strike rate was another striking thing about his game; it was just under 70, and combined with his average of 52.5 (higher than his brother and other greats like Graeme Hick, Mark Waugh and Herbert Sutcliffe) made him a devastating force for over a decade. But it would be until 2008 when he would make his international debut, and he never did play a test. He would only make a solitary international hundred, but he was never picked for his best format: first class cricket.
He saw people like Michael Clarke, Shaun Marsh, Cameron White, George Bailey and Marcus North debut ahead of him, all of which had worse performances than him. He could’ve given up and, gone after T20 leagues and called it a day with first class cricket and Australia, but he didn’t. He played on until the 2014-15 season, playing a crucial part as Victoria won it.No man in the 21st century has made more first class runs than him without playing a test.
Michael’s international career was full of highs, like his maiden hundred against the West Indies, 122 in a partnership of 107 with Glenn McGrath to deflate South Africa later that summer, his role in the “Amazing Adelaide” victory, where he made twin fifties, 134* against Pakistan to overturn a large deficit and seal a whitewash, his utter disregard for Saeed Ajmal’s magic as he slammed him for 23 in five balls to single handedly take Australia to the World T20 final and his long role as Australia’s finisher in ODIs at 5 and 6, much like Michael Bevan before him. Michael had a marvelous cricket brain, and was a genius at judging pitches, batting and captaining.
David and Michael are two giants of both the county game and Shield cricket. Both would have dearly loved to have played more, but can be content with what they’ve achieved. Michael gained all the accolades, but David definitely had his moments. Few would deny either a place in the history books as two of the greatest players in Australian history.