Hussey knows job is only half done
Mike Hussey acknowledged Australia have plenty still to do to establish a decisive first-innings advantage in the opening Ashes Test at the Gabba.
The hosts are 40 runs behind England’s 260 with five wickets in hand following a compelling second day that ebbed and flowed until bad light and rain ended play 17 overs early.
Hussey, who will resume on 81 with wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin on 22 in a partnership currently worth 77, rates tomorrow’s early exchanges as vital with the second new ball taken, but not yet used, by England.
“We had to battle pretty hard throughout that partnership,” he said. “Brad, in particular, he was probably playing against his natural instincts, but they bowled very well to him. But we managed to get a good partnership but it’s probably not even half of what we require.
“We’ve got really hard work first thing tomorrow morning. The second new ball, it’s going to be a real challenging time in the game and whoever can wrestle the initiative is going to be in a good position in the game. It’s going to be a great first session tomorrow.”
Hussey’s place in the side was under serious threat prior to the game and the question may only have been resolved by a last-chance Sheffield Shield hundred for Western Australia against Victoria last week.
He added: “Confidence is a big thing and that was probably a bit of a monkey off the back. I hadn’t scored many runs before that.
“I’ve tried to block it out and focus on my game. Honestly speaking, some of it spills through and it has been tough but that’s what you expect from international cricket.”
Hussey, who had not registered a fifty in his previous seven Test innings, revealed his return to form has not come as a result as a change of approach to batting.
“I don’t think my game’s changed too much along the way,” he observed.
“It’s probably just a time when my mind is a lot clearer and maybe just seeing the ball a bit clearer out of the bowler’s hand, whereas maybe in other times, particularly in the last couple of years I guess, there’s maybe been other clouds or doubts or negative thoughts go through your mind or the situation of the game or what the pitch is doing.
“So it stops you playing with that same freedom, but certainly the way I approach the game and my innings I haven’t changed too much."
A notable feature of Hussey’s innings was his aggression against Graeme Swann, signalling his intent by lifting the second ball he faced from the off-spinner over long-on for six.
While Hussey insisted that particular shot “wasn’t a premeditated thing”, he revealed that not allowing Swann to settle had been a part of his gameplan.
“I wanted to use my feet and I wasn’t quite to the pitch, so I thought I’d just go through with it and it came out of the middle of the bat,” he said.
“We’ve had some good battles over the last few years. He’s probably got the better of me in a couple, so I was pretty keen to try and get the better of him.
"It’s a pretty good pitch and there’s a small margin of error for the spinners in particular."
Hussey admitted he was fortunate to survive his first ball, a full delivery from Steven Finn which he edged fractionally short of Swann at second slip.
“It just goes to show how much of the game is a fine line,” he said. “Nicking that first one, I was hoping and praying it would fall short - and luckily it did.
“A foot or so more, and I would have been gone for a first-ball duck. But, instead, I’m still there at the close, which is a nice feeling.”