Sydney: If there is anyone that Western Australian batsman and Australia`s Mr. Cricket Mike Hussey would doff his hat to after he decides to hang up his gloves, it would be former Northamptonshire coach and now head coach of Canterbury in New Zealand Bob Carter.
It has been a relationship that has built Hussey`s faith in himself right since the days when he was agonizing whether he would ever be picked for Australia, despite scoring mountains of first class runs.
It is a friendship that remains just as strong and important to Hussey today.
"After I hit that 70 not out against Sri Lanka a fortnight ago, Bob sent me a text saying: `Your skill and application under enormous pressure never ceases to amaze me. The Australian team is really lucky to have you. Congratulations and good luck for the next couple of games," the Sydney Morning Herald quotes Hussey, as recalling.
"It was just a few lines, but it meant a lot because I respect Bob so much," Hussey adds.
That respect had emerged from the trying circumstances under which the pair`s link had been established. Hussey`s obsession with breaking into the Australian team had led him to try to bat aggressively, like Matthew Hayden, Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting. But it wasn`t his style, and he was going backwards.
"I`d finished a pretty poor season for WA, and was at Northants at the crossroads of my career," Hussey says.
"My first season there was ordinary, and I was piling pressure on myself. I was the overseas player, replacing Matty Hayden, who`d done really well, but I couldn`t seem to get it together. When we played at Gloucestershire, and I failed again, I apologised to Bob but he just said: `Get out there next game, and I want you to take it to the bowlers, enjoy it and take the pressure off yourself.` I could feel myself relax straight away."
Hussey scored 96 in his next innings. By season`s end he had amassed 2055 runs, including his second-highest first-class score, 329 not out against Essex.
"Bob always made a real effort to make me believe my game was good enough. He`s shown unwavering belief in me and showed me that I could be successful by trusting my game. I listened to him, my consistency came back, and I ended up playing for Australia," Hussey says.
Carter and Hussey stay in regular contact, and their wives, Julie and Amy, are close.
"He`s someone I feel I can talk to about my fears or doubts and, because he knows the game well, he can lift those doubts. He always gets me back into a positive frame of mind. His cricket knowledge has been a great help, and so has his friendship," he adds.
When Carter was asked to leave the Northants, Hussey wrote him a letter that said he should continue to stick to his principles and values as a coach.
Hussey wrote: `You would be brilliant for elite-level players, you must believe that.""
Carter took Hussey`s advice and later secured a job as assistant coach of New Zealand, a position he held for four years. He is now the head coach at Canterbury in New Zealand.
Carter is again backing Hussey as the Test No.5 faces another crossroad in his career, a task for which he is preparing with typically meticulous and dogged resolve.
"I want to come into the series relaxed because everyone else seems to be a bit stressed at the moment," he says.
He adds: "I`m sure that once the series is over there will be some space to enjoy thinking about some of those times. I`ll sit back, have a cold beer and reminisce."