The year of 2012 was a building block for the Australian Test team.
We finished the Vodafone Test Series against India with a 4-0 series sweep, ventured to the West Indies and managed a 2-0 series win in challenging conditions, then went toe to toe with world number one, South Africa, suffering a narrow 1-0 loss.
We’ve ended 2012 on a winning note, taking a 2-0 series lead over Sri Lanka heading into the new year Vodafone Test, leaving our 2012 record at 11 matches, seven wins, three draws and a loss.
We have the opportunity to again start the new year on a high and have even more motivation this year following the unexpected retirement of Mike Hussey.
‘Huss’ has been an unbelievable player for Australia across 79 Tests and will undoubtedly leave huge shoes to fill.
He is the ultimate professional; a hard trainer, tireless worker and an outstanding ambassador for Australian cricket.
Our loss is great gain for his wife Amy and kids Jasmin, Will, Molly and baby Oscar who will get to see their dad more regularly.
While Mr Cricket leaves our side devoid of some experience, I’m excited by the prospects that are coming through and am looking forward to seeing which players really step-up and takeover as the leaders within our group.
In the space of three matches we’ve lost 247 Tests worth of experience.
That obviously doesn’t grow on trees and experience is hard to replace but it provides a great opportunity for our younger players to take more responsibility.
The year 2013 is a huge one for the Australian Test team. Four Tests in India will be followed by the hugely anticipated back-to-back Ashes Series.
We have an opportunity to go from the good year of 2012 to a great year in 2013.
We are under no illusions it’s going to be a huge challenge, but our back-room staff are vigorously planning for those tests ahead.
We’ll send a group of players to India early to prepare for the change of conditions that the subcontinent presents and while the Australian ODI side plays in the Champions Trophy in June, we’ll also have a group of players representing Australia A, playing longer-form matches in the lead-up to the Ashes.
They’re just a couple of small examples of the long-term planning we do.
But for now, the players are not getting ahead of where we need to be and are fully focussed on starting 2013 on a winning note. We want to give Mike Hussey the chance to lead us in one final rendition of ‘Under the Southern Cross I Stand’ before he hands over song master duties.
Finally, I would be remiss of me not to take this opportunity to pass on my condolences to Vivian Greig and all family and close friends of Tony Greig.
Tony’s contribution to cricket over many years as a player and commentator has been huge and he leaves a lasting legacy for not just Australian cricket, but world cricket.
He is truly a global cricket identity and has touched many with his passion and knowledge of the game.
The Channel Nine commentary box won’t be the same without him and I’m sure many fans at home will miss his exuberant commentary and great insights on the game.
The Sydney Vodafone Test shapes an emotional one, but one we hope will kick-start a great year for the Australian Test team.
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia