Image courtesy of: The New Indian Express
Hussey feels Raina has the qualifications needed to get picked for the Indian Test side
Former Australia batsman Michael Hussey believes Indian big-hitter Suresh Raina has the credentials to become a ‘talented’ Test cricketer after having played alongside him during his stint with the Chennai Super Kings in the recent Indian Premier League (IPL).
However, Hussey noted Raina can take his career to the next level if he keeps a calm mind and plays his shots with freedom.
While Hussey sees nothing holding Raina back from playing Test cricket, he admitted that the qualifications to get into the Indian Test squad were becoming increasingly difficult.
“I don’t necessarily agree that he does have any limitations,” Hussey said. “The Indian Test team is a pretty tough one to get into. There are some quality batsmen in there. The only thing that I’ve been telling Suresh is to keep his mind clear and let his instincts take over.
“He’s such a talented player but great players tend to keep their mind blank and play with freedom. If he does that in Test cricket, the sky is the limit for him.”
Hussey was also quick to dismiss the speculation surrounding Raina and his weakness against short balls.
“I don’t agree with that as well,” Hussey said. “I have watched him play the short ball very well in T20 cricket. I have seen a lot of teams targeting him with the short ball and he generally dispatches them into the crowd. So, I don’t think there’s an issue there, to be honest. It’s just all mental.”
Hussey, who is known as ‘Mr Cricket’ and a Test specialist, revealed that Twenty20 cricket had exposed him to a whole new world.
“I think it slowly developed over time,” he said. “I was very much a defensive player when I first started playing. Probably learning to play in different formats of the game and different situations teaches you to try and be a bit more adventurous.”
When asked how he had become one of the more successful Twenty20 batsmen, Hussey attributed it to the fact that he was allowed to play attacking strokes when he came in lower down the order for Australia.
“I was an opener for most of my career but then having to move into the middle order was my only opportunity to play for Australia,” he said. “So, I had to learn pretty quickly and I really enjoyed the challenge. There are so many different situations you came across batting in the middle order.”
Hussey also refuses to believe that Twenty20 cricket has drastically changed his batting style.
“No, not really,” he said. “I don’t change too much in regards with my preparation and technique. I probably try and clear the front leg a little bit in T20. In Tests you try and stay behind the line and play the ball in front of your eyes whereas in T20s you’re looking to free your arms and hit the ball a bit more. That’s probably the only small technical change that I make.”
Despite being brought up on Australian pitches, which are infamous for their pace and bounce, Hussey quickly made a name for himself as one of the better players of spin in the Australian side.
But, just how did he manage to become a master of spin?
“I’ve always enjoyed playing on Indian pitches,” he said. “I enjoy the slower wickets where you’ve got to time the ball, place it in gaps and try to manipulate the field. It’s a great challenge and one that I really love to handle.”
When asked who his favourite batsman in international cricket was, Hussey instantly said South Africa ODI captain AB de Villiers.
“I think, he’s a freak of a player!” Hussey added. “He’s one of my favourite batsmen in the world. He can hit fours and sixes all around the ground and that makes him very difficult for the bowlers to bowl to. He has immense belief in his own ability and he’s a fantastic player.”