David Hussey keen on getting early Test call-up
London: David Hussey, as with his older brother Mike, is a perennially enthusiastic cricketer.
Yet, in England, he admits that attitude can be tested, particularly by the constant travel.
“It`s never home here because you`re always uprooting yourself, packing your bag and going to a different hotel. It`s just never the same place you come home to,” he told The Sunday Age immediately after a lost match.
“It is hard to keep yourself up all the time, but it`s about pride of performance, and that every game I play, I have to win, irrespective of who`s playing. If I`m playing with Kristy (his wife), if I`m playing with you, I`m going to have to win the game. You might be a gun squash player - well, I`m happy to take you down,” he added.
Having lofty performance ambitions is a necessity for Australians playing in England, with the counties and their supporters expecting the best from their usually well-remunerated imports.
While playing in England has partly offset the financial impact of losing his national team contract earlier this year, Hussey said it comes with the expectation to “score all the runs and take all the wickets”.
“[Supporters are] very demanding. They expect the best. If you don`t score the runs, they let you know. There was one game I played about three years ago after I`d made about 20 runs in my past four innings. This bloke chipped me up as I walked off [cheaply] for the fourth time, so I walked back out and had a quiet chat to him,” he said.
“He basically outlined, `If you don`t get the runs no one else is going to do it, so hurry up and do it`.”
Despite the financial rewards, Hussey was adamant his motivation for playing in England during the Australian winter, which he has done since 2004, was to prepare himself for a Test call-up. Judging on selection trends.
However, it may be time for him to find a new motivation. He topped the shield run-scoring tally last season - 970 runs at 57.06 - but for last month`s Tests against Pakistan the reserve batting slot in the Australian team was given to New South Wale`s Usman Khawaja, a player almost a decade his junior.
“To play over here in an Ashes series would be the ultimate goal, and I thought playing county cricket would prepare me for that. I`ve done reasonably well in county cricket, but it`s just not really recognised in Australian circles or with the selectors,” Hussey said.
“Some people say it`s a bit of a waste, but I go the other way,” Hussey said.
“I still hang by the phone for [chairman of selectors] Andrew Hilditch`s call to play Test cricket. One of these days, I hope it happens - and hopefully sooner rather than later because I`m not getting any younger. At 33, I`ve still got a few good years left and I still think I`m one of the best batsmen going around in Australia,” Hussey said.
The irony surrounding Hussey`s responsibilities in England is that it allows him to spend more time with Kristy than during the Australian summer, primarily because of Notts` custom to allow the players` wives and girlfriends to travel with the team (unlike Victoria), but also because of the wage Hussey receives from the Notts.
Kristy, a qualified marine biologist, focuses on six-month work contracts during the Australian summer.
“I certainly find that we spend more time together here in England during the county season,” Kristy said.
For Darren Pattinson, Hussey`s teammate at both Notts and Victoria, family complicates the situation.
His decision in 2008 to uproot wife Elissa and infant daughters Olivia and Steph from Melbourne`s south-east was spectacularly rewarded within months when, a fortnight shy of his 29th birthday, he was chosen to play a Test for England, his country of birth.
“We never thought it would be a burden or anything, we just got up and did it,” said Pattinson, who took a wicket with the first ball of the match against Somerset.
While the interest from English selectors was fleeting, Notts rewarded him with a three-year contract extension. That Pattinson will be 32 when his contract ends next season should not preclude him from a further deal.
What might, however, is the social impact on his young family and daughter in school. “I know it would be a lot easier if I didn`t have a family,” he said. “I`m going to have to make a decision pretty soon on how long I go for.”
Playing in England enables Pattinson and his family to enjoy warm weather year-round, but he said he was looking forward to a winter back in Melbourne.
Hussey is similarly keen - partly for the AFL, which he attempts to keep up with via various pay-TV subscriptions in England.
“I do catch up a lot with mates via text messages. The only things I really miss a lot are the football - obviously St Kilda - and walking down to the coffee shop with my wife. And the beach, down Sorrento way,” Hussey said.
“It`s a bit difficult [returning later]. You go to a season launch and you`ve just finished a season in England and you think, `God, another season to come`, but the advantage of playing over here is you hit the ground running, having had match practice out in the middle.
“The key is to have as much rest as possible so when you`re not playing just switch off from cricket - go on holidays, go down the beach, do whatever.”