Concerns about team culture hastened my decision to retire, reveals Michael Hussey

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“We were fostering an environment where guys only cared about their positions and didn’t think about the team”

Legendary Australia batsman Michael Hussey has revealed that his concerns about the team culture hastened his decision to retire. 

In his new autobiography, Underneath the Southern Cross, Hussey noted that he arranged a formal meeting with then coach Mickey Arthur during Australia’s tour of the West Indies in 2012 to discuss his concerns about the team culture and the direction in which the team was headed. 

Hussey told Arthur that he was becoming increasingly worried by the ignorant attitude being portrayed by the national team and the fact that everyone was looking out for themselves instead of helping one another like a proper team should. 

Despite speaking to Arthur about his concerns, Hussey feels as if he was not taken seriously. 

“While I was in the West Indies, I became concerned at a deeper level about how I was enjoying being in the team,” Hussey wrote. “My view was always that in cricket you have to be genuinely happy for your team-mates’ success. If it wasn’t happening, was it the team culture or was it just a few players? I was a bit nervous about that, and organised a meeting with Mickey.

“I sat down with him and and got all my concerns out in the open. ‘We need to foster a culture that makes them want to think about other people and play for the team,’ I said. ‘Get them out of [that] insular thinking and bring in team activities. It’s about caring for each other. There’s too much insular thinking; about number one only.’

“Did Mickey see it as something that could be improved? In our chat, I don’t think anything I said went in. Mickey definitely listened, but he was in tunnel vision mode too. He had specific things he wanted to focus on, and anything from left field didn’t register. I walked away from the meeting thinking I was glad to have got it off my chest, but it didn’t go anywhere.

“It was understandable how Mickey had his specific plans, and Michael [Clarke] too, but for me it was a big early warning sign that this team had problems ahead of it. We were fostering an environment where guys only cared about their positions and didn’t think about the team. The dressing room became just as stressful and tense as [it was] out in the middle. It should be a sanctuary, where you can let go and have a joke with your team-mates. Our dressing room wasn’t relaxed or calm, or conducive to good play. I didn’t enjoy that tension, and I’m sure some of the guys weren’t enjoying it.”

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