Michael Edward Killeen Hussey, the kid from Wanneroo, retires from Test cricket today as a legend.
In terms of statistics, his international career has been breathtaking.
Averaging over 50 in Test cricket and 48 in ODI’s, the affectionately named ‘Mr Cricket’ joins an elite list on the top shelf of ‘great’ Australian Test players.
With 19 Test centuries to his name and a list of outstanding on field successes, Mike leaves the international arena with a career, which he should, and will be very proud.
When he rang me the other morning his message was similar to that of some of my other friends and team mates, namely Matty Hayden, Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist.
He told me, like they did, that he just knew it was time.
I understand that feeling very well.
At first I was shocked, even more so than when Haydos, Gilly and Punta decided ‘the time was right.’
The tingles didn’t stop at the back of my neck. Instead, they ran right through my entire body.
Such is his energy and enthusiasm for the game of cricket, I honestly thought, he was the type of person who would have to be removed kicking and screaming.
So passionate is he about the Baggy Green cap and Australian cricket in general that I, like so many others, really didn’t see it coming.
After a few minutes of conversation though it made perfect sense. He had been worn down by the relentless time away from his young family. And, like everything he has done in his cricket career he had thought long and hard about what was best for them and the team.
He knew that unless he was anything but 100% committed and focussed he couldn’t keep going.
That is why he isn’t.
For the same reasons that I was initially surprised, it was a no-brainer asking my young Western Australian teammate to take over the role of song master when I retired from the Test cricket.
No player in my time has been more disciplined.
No player has paid so much attention to detail.
No player has grasped his opportunities better than Mike Hussey.
As a young player at Western Australia, his only real fault was that he wanted it too much. He was so hungry for success and a Baggy Green cap that his quest became an obsession.
He trained himself into the ground; he worried far too much about his failures and became a victim of paralysis by analysis. The harder he tried the worse it got and that is why he was over 30 when his chance came.
When it did though he was ready.
Ten years of grounding had laid a solid foundation for excellence. He had learned on and off the field how to balance his desire with what he could control. He had honed a technique through hours and hours and hours of practice in the nets. He had developed mental and physical resilience through more hours of mind-hardening physical training.
So well drilled was he when his time came, that it is no wonder that he retires today with such impressive returns.
Because it had taken him so long to fit the cherished Baggy Green cap to his head, he was going to enjoy and suck every last inch out of every opportunity.
His debut came when I broke a rib.
He hugged me so hard when I told him I couldn’t play that he nearly broke another one. Perhaps that is why I was out for two Tests instead of one? In hindsight that bear hug at the Gabba was an excellent strategy on his behalf because it bought him an extra Test match to show that he had to be picked, even when it was time for me to come back.
From day one of his Test career, he lived by the ethos that he would be so good that the selectors couldn’t ignore him.
And they haven’t.
His 79 Test matches have almost run without a hitch. He has been superb and he will be missed.
In the field he is brilliant. Within the team there is a catchcry that Mr Cricket ‘never drops them’. Every time these words are spoken, he blushes and reminds us not to tempt fate.
Like his batting, his catching is as safe as the proverbial house and his throwing is as spotless as his cricket bag and his polished shoes.
Equally as remarkable as his Test career has been his ability to play all three forms of the game. Once a bit of a blocker in Shield cricket, he is now the first picked in every short form game for Australia. Every team needs a ‘finisher’ and Huss has been as good as any since Michael Bevan and Dean Jones.
Meticulously fit and exceptionally quick between the wickets, a huge hole will be left when Mike plays his final one-day innings for Australia.
Under pressure there are few players who respond like Huss has. His cool head is a product of his technique, mental toughness and elite physical conditioning. He has nothing to worry about because he has never left a stone unturned in his relentless pursuit of personal excellence.
Like Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey has been the consummate professional and role model.
Equally, he is a humble and well-respected person who retires with many friends from the game. You would have to travel a long way to find a single person who would say a bad word about Michael Hussey.
Who Huss passes on the song master’s baton to remains to be seen but if he is able to sing the song one last time in Sydney you can be sure it will be done with the same amount of emotion and passion that epitomises the career of Mike Hussey.
He retires a legend and rightfully so because no one has worked harder for it.
We all wish him the very best of luck for his final Test and the future.