Hussey~~s ~~best finisher~~ tag makes him big threat

Published: Monday, February 26, 2007, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Mike Hussey gets the grand stage at the World Cup to prove he is best finisher in one-day cricket after three whirlwind years of success with Australia.

Dubbed 'Mr Cricket' by his teammates for his dedication to the sport, 31-year-old Hussey plays with a fanaticism of never letting an opportunity pass him by and his wicket will be the one cherished by rival bowlers.

Since his international debut at almost 29 in February 2004, Hussey has built an imposing batting average of 66.88 on the back of 1,739 runs in 61 matches and a phenomenal strike-rate of 92.06 per 100 balls.

That puts him at level above batting legends, Sachin Tendulkar, Brian Lara and Ricky Ponting.

There is conjecture as to where Hussey's best batting position is in the Australian team, but it's at number six where he feels most comfortable and his coolness under pressure has steered his side to many victories in tense run chases.

Many comparisons have been drawn between Hussey and fellow left-hander Michael Bevan, who played a similar role late in the middle order in Australia's 1999 and 2003 World Cup successes.

Bevan averaged 53.58 with a strike-rate of 74.16 in 232 one-day internationals, but Hussey's figures show how immensely influential he is batting down the order with the pressure on.

"I really enjoy and relish the situation (at No.6) where I can come in and try to have a positive impact on the team," Hussey said.

Skipper Ricky Ponting said Hussey had clearly emerged from Bevan's shadow in his own right as the best finisher in the business.

"He has certainly stepped into the Michael Bevan role, and is doing probably as well as Bevan ever did," Ponting said.

"He has managed to win us a lot of games off his own bat whether it be Test matches, making hundreds batting with the tail, or controlling one-day games.

"He has just adapted to international cricket unbelievably well. He is a very good finisher."

Remarkably, Hussey appears more effective playing overseas where both his two ODI centuries have come in Malaysia and New Zealand this season and averaging 75 to 55 at home and with a strike-rate of 92 to 91 at home.

So highly regarded is Hussey in Australian cricket that he was named captain of Australia's ill-fated campaign in the recent Chappell-Hadlee one-day cricket series in New Zealand after a decision to rest Ponting and vice-captain Adam Gilchrist ahead of the World Cup.

"I've had to work very, very hard to get into the team, but that is what playing for Australia is all about it," Hussey said.

"Everyone has to work very hard, put a lot of runs on the board or take a lot of wickets to earn the right to play for Australia and that is the way it should be.

"I just really want to try and make every innings count for as much as I can and never take anything for granted.

"The baggy green cap means so much to me, so I really want to try and do as well as I can."


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