This has become an all too familiar sight for Hussey
Australia veteran batsman Michael Hussey had announced that he wants to improve his record against South Africa ahead of the three-Test series, which starts on November 9 in Brisbane.
But, Hussey could be in for a rough time as the South African pace attack, which features Dale Steyn, Morne Morkel and Vernon Philander, have been in sublime form as of late.
The South African pace trio easily ripped through the England batting lineup to defeat them 2-0 in the three-Test series over the summer, which resulted in them being crowned as the new number one Test team in international cricket.
Since Morkel and Steyn burst onto the scene, Hussey has played eight Test matches against the Proteas and has a top score of 50.
With the first Test scheduled to begin next week, Hussey admitted that his preparation for the series has been less than ideal since he has not represented Western Australia in enough Sheffield Shield matches due to the Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20), where he played for the Chennai Super Kings.
“It’s not perfect. You’d definitely prefer at least a couple [of Shield games], but that’s the way the schedule is and there’s nothing I can do about it … But I must admit my training while I was over in South Africa was trying to get back into Test match cricket mode. I was facing Ben Hilfenhaus with red balls over there. I have done a fair bit of work in the lead-up to this Shield game. This Shield game is very important as well. I’d prefer to have more first-class games but having said that I find the transition from Twenty20 into the longer form a lot easier than the other way around. I’ve always struggled going from a Test match into a T20 game. I’ve found that’s taken me a lot longer. Hopefully I can make the adjustment relatively quickly,” Hussey said.
However, Hussey is not the only player in the Test squad that has not been playing enough first-class cricket, as opener David Warner and all-rounder Shane Watson are experiencing the same problem.
In the last eight Test matches Hussey has played against South Africa, Morkel and Steyn have dismissed him five times each, but, many cricket pundits believe that Hussey could target leg-spinner Imran Tahir to get more settled at the crease.
But inevitably, Hussey will have to find an answer to the pace and bounce of Morkel and Steyn, while also being cautious with the way he approaches Philander as well.
“It’s probably the best attack that I’ve faced, they complement each other quite well. They’re all different bowlers. Steyn is a bit shorter, extreme pace but can swing the ball away from the right hander. Morkel gets that awkward bounce so he’s very different. He’s a bit wider of the crease and bowls very well to the left handers in particular. Philander is extremely disciplined, lands the ball on the seam and does a little bit either way. They’re well backed up by Kallis, who has done a fantastic job over a long time, and they’ve got a very good spinner as well. They’re a very well rounded attack. They complement each other very well and we’re going to have to play extremely well to get on top of them,” Hussey added.
Even though he knows that he has only scored 277 runs at an average of 18.46 in his last eight Tests against the Proteas, Hussey stated that he would not let those figures get the better of him.
“There’s no point [worrying], I have tried doing that before, against England. I’d had a mediocre season against England and I was getting all worried about it, and then ended up performing a lot better against them next time. There’s no point in worrying or stressing about anything that’s happened in the past, because there’s enough things to worry and stress about when you’re out in the middle in a Test match anyway. The Test matches we’ve played against South Africa in South Africa have been extremely difficult for batting. I think back to the Cape Town game when we were bowled out for 40-odd, Michael Clarke’s innings of 150 was one of the best innings I’ve ever seen, because the pitch was doing an extraordinary amount and no other batsman looked comfortable at all. I’m expecting the pitches in Australia to be very good, very true, and if you can get in and get through that initial period, there’s no reason why a few of the guys can’t go on and get big scores,” Hussey said.
Despite his poor record against South Africa in the past eight Tests, national selector John Inverarity believes that Hussey is bound to score some runs in the upcoming series.
“Last year when [the selection panel] were contemplating the first Test team against India at the Boxing Day Test, we were discussing Ben Hilfenhaus, and a couple amongst us said Ben Hilfenhaus’ record at the MCG is not at all good, then one amongst us said ‘well he’s due to take wickets’ and he got five. So I would say against the South Africans, Michael Hussey who is a very fine batsman, is due to make some runs,” Inverarity said.