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Shirin Sadikot in Mumbai 09 April 2014 - 12:45pm IST

Will chew off Tendulkar’s ears: Hussey

The Australian great plans to discuss cricket, life with Tendulkar at Mumbai Indians

In sports, while performances can earn you love and fandom, the path to earning genuine respect is harder to tread. For respect goes much deeper than the numbers. The respect earned by a sportsman is in direct proportion to the reverence with he regards his sport.

In cricket, the list of such men would be incomplete without the name of Michael Edward Killeen Hussey. He might not dominate the cricket record books. But his name will go down in the annals of cricket as a man who revered cricket and served it with utmost honesty and selflessness. If a man’s true worth is measured by the respect he commands by those he has come in contact with in his lifetime, Michael Hussey would be pronounced an international treasure by the time he turns 50.

Exaggeration apart, the former Australian batsman is indeed a treasure to any cricket team he plays for. At the IPL, the Chennai Super Kings enjoyed his inspirational team-manship for six years. Now it’s time for the Mumbai Indians to benefit from his unwavering dedication, his brilliant cricketing mind and the wealth of experience he brings with him.

Ahead of Pepsi IPL 2014, Hussey spoke to iplt20.com about the beginning of his journey with the Mumbai franchise and life after retiring from international cricket.

You’re so used to wearing the yellow jersey, at international level and in IPL. Now time to don a blue one?

Yes it will be different but I am excited by the challenge of joining a team that I have admired and respected over the six years.

What was your first reaction when you learned that this year you’ll be playing for MI?

Excited about joining the champion team and the chance to play home games at Wankhede stadium, which probably has the best atmosphere I have ever experienced.

CSK and MI have developed a rivalry in a very short time. Will it take a bit of work to adjust on the other side of the rivalry?

I don’t think so. I have had some great battles with Mumbai Indians over the years and look forward to many great battles with CSK over the next few years.

Until last year, you would often join the IPL midway due to national duties. Now it’s been more than a year since your last first-class match. Have you found it harder to maintain the extremely lofty standards of fitness that you are known for?

I have still been able to work hard on my fitness and strength and I am still playing in the Big Bash in Australia. I may be a little rusty early in the tournament but I think I won’t take long to get up to the required level.

On the other hand, does it get easier to concentrate all your energies towards working on one format?

Yes I agree. I always found it tough switching to and from the different formats of the game and I am fit and fresh and excited about getting into the action again.

In what particular way has your preparation and fitness routine changed? Any specific skill-polishing exercise that you have dropped or any that you have added to your preparation?

Yes, I guess my skill training has changed a little and is totally focused around T20 cricket and not on the longer formats of the game.

Have you been working on any of the outrageous T20 shots now that you don’t have to worry about hampering your Test technique?

Ha! Not really, I still think your basic game needs to be in good working order and then you try and adapt according to the situation of the game.

Have you considered mastering the switch-hit? It might come easier to you considered that you are a righty with the ball.

Ha, no way, I don’t know how they have the courage to play that shot.

A well known facet of your career has been how seriously you take your cricket. You’re often the first to appear for the net session and the last to go. It is said when you take something so seriously, it is difficult to enjoy what you’re doing. Does it stand true for you?

I think I have mellowed over the years and have enjoyed the game a lot more in my last few seasons. Maybe there is a lesson in that as I feel my performances have been better the more I have relaxed and enjoyed the game.

What is tougher: to take cricket out of Mr. Cricket or take Mr. Cricket out of cricket?

I think I will always be involved in cricket, I do love the game and the people involved.

Did you suffer from withdrawal symptoms after leaving Test cricket? Will playing T20s for a while longer ease you into the eventual life after cricket?

No, quite the opposite actually. I don’t miss the stress, pressure, expectation and media attention. T20 is fun and easier on the body as you get older.

Will you be exchanging some thoughts on life after international cricket from one recently retired Sachin Tendulkar?

I hope so. I am really looking forward to spending time with him and talking about life and cricket. He will probably be sick of me by the end of the IPL.

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