Melbourne: Former Australian captain Steve Waugh has slammed the national selectors for dropping Michael Hussey from the World Cup squad, saying that senior batsman should have been picked as he was expected to be fit in the later part of the tournament.
Waugh described the selectors` decision to dump Hussey as "staggering" after reports surfaced that he had overcome his hamstring injury and was keen to play for Western Australia in Sheffield Shield before he was overruled by Cricket Australia.
Hussey, who insisted he would have been fit enough to play against Sri Lanka on March 5 had he been selected, has been cleared to play for WA in a Shield game starting against
Queensland at WACA ground on Thursday -- two days before Australia`s third World Cup clash.
"If he was going to play in any game of cricket, it should be in the World Cup," Waugh said.
"If Mike Hussey could have been fit (to play in the tournament), he should have gone away. I`m sure Ricky (Ponting) would`ve wanted him to go away with them; his experience is invaluable, particularly on the (subcontinent) wickets, and he plays spin well. I was staggered he wasn`t picked," he said.
Waugh said Hussey, a 35-year-old veteran of 151 ODIs, had the experience needed by teams wanting to win the tournament.
"Unless they play very, very badly, there`s no way Australia won`t make the quarter-finals. At the end of the day, it`s all about quarter-finals; you win three games from there and you win the World Cup," he said.
Waugh said the selectors had set a precedent for picking an injured player to allow him time to get back into fitness at the last World Cup campaign in the West Indies when Andrew Symonds was given such latitude.
Ponting was also sent away for this edition despite nursing the broken little finger that kept him out of the SCG Ashes Test and the subsequent one-day series against England.
"They did it last time with Andrew Symonds when he went over with a biceps injury even though he needed to be rested for the first few games," Waugh said.
"Hussey is one guy who would`ve really committed himself to getting fit. The selectors, though, must have heard something, but there are three or four guys sitting on the bench over there and not playing, and Hussey could have been one of them. Time will tell if the selectors made the right decision. They have to go with their gut feeling."