Who is the greatest player never to play Test cricket? Well it’s probably some obscure player who played around the time of one of the World Wars. Someone whose name cricket hipsters love trying to casually drop into conversations whenever they can. Much like how we try to casually tell anyone who will listen that Jesse Ryder (yes, the Jesse Ryder) follows us on twitter. Owing to the amount of Test cricket being played these days no-cap wonders are a little light on the ground. Jamie Siddons is one name that immediately springs to mind, and we are sure he weeps himself to sleep every night over the fact that even Rob Quiney has two Test caps. But there is one other name that stands out as a beacon of under-achievement. We refer to, of course, one
David Hussey’s story may well be the saddest of them all. His career reads as the polar opposite to that of his brother’s. Michael waited, waited, and waited a bit more for his chance to come, and when it did he ran with it, a century in his second Test ensuring his place in the team. For brother David though chances come and went and he was never able to establish a secure spot in either the Australian ODI or T20 outfits, despite being one of the world’s leading runscorers in the latter. He always seemed to underwhelm on the international stage, never able to maintain the sort of consistency that could have catapulted him into Test reckoning. And when a Test spot finally opened up for him, when all he had to do to finally grab that prized baggy green that had eluded him for so long was maintain the form that had made him one of the premier batsman in Australian domestic cricket for nearly a decade, well….we will get to that bit.
Most cricket fans around the world would know who David Hussey is (as opposed to someone like, say, Michael Klinger). He has scored mountains of runs for Nottinghamshire, has had millions of dollars thrown at him in IPL auctions (although then again, who hasn’t?), whilst also being one of Shane Warne’s patsies playing for the Melbourne Stars in the Big Bash. Wherever he has played he has performed. Over twelve thousand First-class runs, seven thousand in one dayers, and nearly five thousand in T20’s is testament to that. His international record, however, is less impressive.
Hussey made his international debut in an ODI against the West Indies in 2008, and hit the ground running with a half century, followed by another in the next match of just 19 balls. His form afterwards was solid, without being spectacular, and he just seemed to just drift out of the team for no real reason the following year. Probably because Andrew Hilditch completely forgot he existed. Those were strange times for Australian cricket. After a few years on the periphery, as everyone struggled to remember why he was dropped in the first place, he was recalled in 2011 for the memorable ODI series that followed the 2010/11 Ashes.
His form throughout this period was remarkable. With Shane Watson crippled more times than not, he quickly emerged as the most important player in the Australian ODI team. This continued right up to the tour of England last year, where he looked the only player actually able to make runs in English conditions. With Ricky Ponting looking more and more a liability in the Test team, the money was on Hussey, at 35 years, finally making his long deserved step up into the Test arena. Then everything went terribly, terribly wrong.
It’s easy to pinpoint the exact moment things fell apart, the series against Pakistan in the UAE last year, but the cause remains a mystery (although Saeed Ajmal probably has quite a bit to do with it). In that three game series he averaged just 15.3. Despite being one of the world’s best T20 batsmen, he was dropped for Glenn Maxwell at the following T20 World Cup, only to make a return in the Semi-final against the West Indies, where he made a golden duck. With Watson ruled out of the Test series against South Africa a spot was still up for grabs, and then the retirements of Ricky Ponting and his brother Michael meant that suddenly anyone capable of holding a bat the right way up was in contention for a Test middle order spot. Despite his recent dip in form all Hussey needed was a decent season in the Sheffield Shield and he was in.
Coming into the current Australian domestic season Hussey boasted a First-class average of a little over 50. So far this season he has scored 134 runs in 11 innings at an average of 12.18. It has been the most public fall from grace since Lance Armstrong appeared on US day time television to deny telling one of his teammates’ wives that she was fat. From being the obvious next man in to the team, Hussey’s Test prospects are now deader than the tourist season in Luton. He was seen as the player, perhaps the only player, capable of anchoring the Australian middle order during this year’s Ashes. Now his career is road kill.