This was not the high-profile retirement announcement we were expecting. While Sachin Tendulkar keeps us wondering, Mike Hussey has taken us by surprise. "Mr Cricket" has had enough of the game.
"I was looking ahead to the India series and the Ashes and I didn't have the same excitement or buzz about the challenges ahead," said Hussey upon announcing his imminent departure from top-flight cricket.
Hussey will play his last and 79th Test match for Australia in Sydney against Sri Lanka. So England's analysts are spared some agonising since it was anticipated that Hussey, alongside the prolific Michael Clarke, would be a major obstacle to England's bowlers in next summer's Ashes series.
Hussey's departure can have nothing to do with poor form. He has hit three Test centuries during this Australian summer and while many have been speculating over the futures of Ricky Ponting and Tendulkar, no one was anticipating that Hussey might call it a day, even though he was 37 last May. It is tempting to conclude that he has shown Tendulkar how to do it.
Our surprise stems from Hussey's excellent form and that he has been on the international treadmill for only seven years. Hussey's career has been unusual as well as prolific – he averages 51 after 78 Tests. Yet he was 30 years of age when he played his first Test against the West Indies in Brisbanein November 2005.
Since then he has been an archetypal, no-nonsense Aussie, who became entrusted with the task of leading the singing of the team song, "Under the Southern Cross", after every Test victory. In this Hussey followed an august list of names, starting with Rod Marsh and including Allan Border, David Boon, Ian Healy, Ricky Ponting and Justin Langer.
In Australia there will, no doubt, be endless speculation about who should succeed Hussey in this role. Of greater significance with a tour to India and two Ashes series on the horizon is who will replace him in the middle order. Recently Australia have been overly dependent on Hussey and Clarke for runs.
The likeliest candidate is familiar to Englishmen, especially if they happen to reside in Derbyshire. It may well be that Usman Khawaja, who has six Test caps, will be given another opportunity. Khawaja, for all his promise, will not cause quite so many furrowed brows as the prospect of bowling to Hussey has done over the past seven years.
guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010
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