Arthur admitted that Ponting and Hussey would have been instrumental during this year’s Ashes series
Australia head coach Mickey Arthur has come to the defence of the national team after their humiliating 4-0 whitewash against the Indians, stating that this is definitely not an indication of things to come for the back-to-back Ashes series.
Arthur noted that conditions in India and England are on two different ends of the scale since the subcontinent is known for its spin-friendly pitches, while English pitches are better known for being a pace bowler’s paradise.
However, Arthur did admit that the loss of veteran batting duo Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey had hurt Australia considerably and the gaping hole they left behind in the batting line-up will be hard to fill as there are currently no batsmen anywhere near their level.
Australia’s top six batsmen, besides captain Michael Clarke, are inexperienced and lack the runs to prove that there were born to play Test cricket.
To make matters even worse, Clarke is the only player in the squad to have scored more than three centuries, which clearly identifies why numerous cricket pundits and former players believe England will be favourites to win both legs of the Ashes series.
“It’s probably not that fair a barometer,” Arthur said. “I was pretty scared when I looked at the schedule because we’d been building a top-six and a team. We were nearly the finished article, then we lose 300 Test caps. In my thinking Ponting and Hussey were coming to the Ashes. We had them pencilled in to come to the Ashes so we had some stability in the top six. We thought we had experience, some good young players and it was the perfect blend. We then lose both those players.
“Then I thought we’ve got to go to India, and on every tour to India I’ve been on there’s been casualties. We don’t want those casualties going into the Ashes because we’ve got to back what we think are our best players. We’ve got to keep the team as stable as we possibly can. We can’t go into the Ashes thinking ‘what’s our best top six?’ We can’t be using the first couple of games as a trial. We need to be clear in our mind as to who those players are. I was clear in my mind … but I’ll talk to you again after the next two Tests.”
Ponting’s end was becoming increasingly clear, especially after his poor performances against the West Indies and South Africa last year.
But, Hussey’s retirement was a major shock to the entire team management as he had performed outstandingly against the Proteas and Sri Lankans.
The thing that shocked everyone the most was the fact that Hussey did not retire due to bad form or lack of runs, as he scored 950 Test runs at an incredible average of 59.37 in 2012, but instead to spend more time with his family.
Hussey’s retirement was also a major blow ahead of the India series, as he possessed the god-given gift of impeccable footwork and the ability to play against spin.
In his past tours of India, Hussey has amassed a total of 493 Test runs at a respectable average of 44.81.
Arthur noted that nothing would have changed Hussey’s mind from hanging up the gloves and calling it a day.
“That was Huss’s decision,” Arthur said. “We couldn’t try and persuade him either way and it was right for him. Everything he has said subsequently has made me think that the time was right for him. We can’t change that. That’s his decision. It was disappointing to lose him though ahead of what is such a big year. A year I guess that will define Michael and my leadership. It was disappointing because it was almost back to square one again in terms of experience.”