Hussey safe for Ashes opener, say Australia selectors

Melbourne: Senior Australian batsman Mike Hussey’s position in the team is safe for the first Ashes Test but the pressure remains on him to perform, national selector Greg Chappell said on Tuesday.

Australia will name an extended squad on Monday ahead of the opening Test against old rivals England in Brisbane, which starts on November 25.

Chappell and chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said the 54-Test campaigner deserved another chance.

“You discard experienced players and proven players very carefully,” Chappell said of the 35-year-old left-hander.

“I’d rather see that we gave them one chance too many than one chance too few. I don’t think we’re going to see wholesale changes going into the first Test match.”

Chappell said middle-order duo Hussey and Marcus North, who are both averaging under 40 this year, are well aware that younger players, Usman Khawaja, Callum Ferguson and Steve Smith are knocking on the door of the Test side.

“I suppose there’s always pressure on you when you’re batting in a Test match,” Chappell said.

“There may be a little extra on the guys at this stage. They’ve been around long enough to know that they’ve got to perform. They don’t need me or anyone else to tell them.”

Hilditch also endorsed Hussey, who only broke into Test cricket when he was 30.

“You have got to have regard that he averages 50 in Test cricket and he’s been a great player for Australia,” Hilditch told reporters in Adelaide.

Australia are set to gamble on paceman Doug Bollinger for the first Test squad, despite the left-arm quick not playing for more than month due to a stomach strain.

Bollinger will miss New South Wales’s match starting on Wednesday against Victoria, but is expected to play in next week’s four-day game against Tasmania.

“We’re expecting him to be fit for the first Test,” Hilditch said.

“He’ll have to get through the Shield game obviously to be considered to make the final line-up, but the intention is he’ll come back for that Shield game and we think that is enough.

“We have been pretty conservative with Doug. He’s an important player for us so we are giving him maximum time to recover.”

Bureau Report