Twenty20 a true test says Hussey
Twenty20 may seem to be a batsman's dream but Mike Hussey expects the popularity of the new form to pose a serious challenge to willow-wielders as they try to adapt to three different versions of cricket.
Hussey believes most players will want to stay involved in Twenty20 but only the cream of the crop will be able to maintain an elite standard at Twenty20, one-day and Test level.
"I think only the best players around the world will be able to adapt to every format of the game," said Hussey, who left with the Australian Test squad for the West Indies last night.
"I've found that the best players in Test cricket are the ones that can adapt very well to one-day and Twenty20 cricket. It definitely adds to a player's workload (moving between the forms) but I think most players will want to stay mixed up in the different formats of the game. Twenty20's so much fun and I think most players want to have fun playing cricket."
Hussey has spent the week at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane working on his front and back defence and letting balls go.
He said he was treating every net session as if it were the first 30 minutes of a Test innings.
Defence is a part of the game he has hardly had to use since January when Australia played India in the fourth Test. He had five weeks off after the domestic summer and took a rest from batting. Next thing he was in India playing in the frantic Indian Premier League.
Hussey, whose natural style of technical perfection and deep concentration is probably best suited to Test cricket, proved his adaptability in India. He was probably the buy of the tournament, going unwanted at first but later getting picked up by the Chennai Super Kings for a relatively bargain $405,000. In the team's first match he became the first Australian to hit an IPL century, cracking 116 not out off just 54 balls.
He played four games for the Super Kings, scoring 168 runs at an average of 84 and a strike rate of 168. The side was undefeated but hasn't won a match since Hussey and Matthew Hayden left.
"I was a little surprised to hit a hundred," Hussey said. "I didn't think I could ever score a hundred in Twenty20 cricket. I thought that was out of my capabilities, so it was really enjoyable to do that. It was quite a good bowling attack, too.
"After that I became a lot more of a focus. We had Hayden and MS Dhoni, who were attracting a lot of attention. After that innings, though, there were hundreds of people in the hotel lobby, journalists ringing my room every 10 minutes, things like that. It was certainly a different experience to what I was used to."
Despite the adrenalin rush of the IPL, Hussey claims Ricky Ponting's Australians will have no trouble being ready to take on the West Indies.
He anticipates facing a good bowling attack and feels those batsmen who played in the IPL will be able to switch modes.
"I went to India to really enjoy the whole experience," he said. "It was something new and also I'd had nearly five weeks off so I thought of it as a good chance to get some practice in and have a good hit with some competition before going to the Windies.
"It does take some adjustment. Usually we have to adjust pretty quickly anyway. We're lucky we've got experienced players who can make the adjustment between formats of the game quickly.
"I'm quite a structured and planned person and like to have my plans organised in my mind clearly. Obviously, I have different plans for Twenty20 cricket than those I have for Test cricket.
"So it's a case of me being able to stick to my plans. Preparation comes into that and I make sure I prepare well for training and making sure my defence is solid and make sure I'm hitting singles and letting balls go and all the little things that make a good Test innings.
"This week I've been treating my net sessions differently. It's about preserving your wicket, taking your time and working on your defence. There's two aspects to it: the technical and mental. I won't have any trouble getting ready for this series.
"In my mind, Test cricket is the number one priority because that's the form of the game that you're measured by your peers and it's what you're going to be measured by in history.
"Test cricket tells people what kind of player you are or were."