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At the first-class and international levels, David Hussey has often found himself in the shadows of his more prolific elder brother, Michael.
However, when it comes to Twenty20 cricket, David has carved out his own niche. With over 5,500 runs and more than 50 wickets in 230 matches, David Hussey is one of the most experienced and successful T20 cricketers in the world.
It was, hence, a surprise when he wasn’t picked at the 2014 IPL Player Auction. But the brother of Mr. Cricket is fairly in love with the game himself and he still became part of the tournament in the capacity of a commentator. Now, just over halfway into Pepsi IPL 2014, David has once again found the opportunity to display his cricketing skills on the field. And in an irony of fate, he is about to turn up for the team that his brother had served for six years, from the first season, before donning a different coloured jersey this year.
As he waited to catch a flight from Bengaluru to Ranchi via Delhi, to join the Chennai Super Kings outfit, David Hussey spoke to IPLT20.com about the prospect of playing for a new IPL team – he represented KKR and KXIP in earlier seasons – this year.
Here are excerpts from his interview:
Welcome back to the IPL, as a player!
Thank you. It’s very exciting. I’m looking forward to it; a little nervous as well, but can’t wait to join up with my new teammates. The CSK team seems incomplete without a Hussey in their side.
Yes, seems like it (laughs). Mike did ever so well for them for six years and hopefully I can continue that trend and help lead the team to success as he did.
Michael was told during a TV interview during a match that you have joined CSK. Superb communication between you two!
We text each other a little bit, but I wasn’t allowed to announce it to anybody. I figured if I’ll tell him, he might tell the world. So, I kept it down a bit.
How did this contract come about?
The talk started a while ago, actually, with Dwayne Bravo having a sore shoulder. He had to be checked out and there were doubts about him being ruled out of the tournament. So, Stephen Fleming rang me and asked if I would be interested in playing. I am definitely a player and I jumped at the chance. I was lucky enough to be here commentating, and now, I can’t wait to play.
Have you spoken to anyone from the CSK management team about your role in the side?
Not as yet. I have sort of spoken to Fleming and he said that I will be a middle-order player, and with Brendon McCullum due to go home for the birth of his baby, I’ll definitely get an opportunity to play.
With KXIP, you were a big part of the leadership group and also captained the team. Do you eye a similar role with CSK this year?
Maybe not so much a leadership role per se, but just helping out with the different plans the team lays out, especially for the foreign players. But otherwise, I think MS Dhoni and Fleming are more than capable of taking all leadership decisions and they don’t need my advice there.
Is there anything you’d like to pick up from Dhoni’s captaincy, given as a senior player you do play that role in other teams.
Just the fact that he remains so calm all the time. No situation seems to faze him. He’s batting at the end of the innings, the run-rate gets to 14 and he goes about his business so cool and collected, and wins most of the games with little fuss. It will be good to have that kind of attitude and ability.
Joining a new team, you are full of apprehensions and questions as to the modus operandi of the team. But do you go in with enough information about CSK, given your brother was with them for so long?
Absolutely, yes. I have spoke to Michael a lot about how CSK run their organization. They are very well led by MS Dhoni and they have got a great coach in Stephen Fleming. Also, I have played a lot against some of the players who will now be my teammates, and that helps me understand their game. Still a bit nervous to find out how they all get along and function together as a team. That makes me further more excited to be joining them.
What is the first thing you set to achieve when joining a new team?
Probably just try to fit into the group and get amongst the boys. I also look to get involved in helping the guys out in whatever ways I can – maybe throw balls during training – and try to be an integral part of the team structure.
Does commentating give you a different perspective of the game as a player?
It does. While commentating as an expert, you suddenly become the best player in the world. You view the game from a totally different position – you see the field changes from far and you have more time to think whether the move is right or wrong. When you’re on the field, you don’t see everything that is going on because you are also worried about your own game. But when you’re upstairs, you can see everything and can predict what ball is going to be bowled next. In that respect, it is a lot easier being a commentator, but I am definitely still a player and I cannot wait to get out there and face some cricket balls again.
Has your commentary stint prepared you better as a player?
It does help. I have been watching the IPL from the com-box and I know what trends are on with teams when it comes to planning, which bowler bowls at which batsman and what their strategies are. Hopefully, I can make use of that knowledge when I go out there on the field.
CSK have now failed twice against Glenn Maxwell. What is the Aussie formula to keep him quiet?
Oh, he’s in the form of his life, isn’t he? It is very difficult to plan the wicket of someone like him because he is so unpredictable. He is capable of hitting the ball in all parts of the ground, except probably behind the ‘keeper. Maybe we should try and get him caught there. You just hope he plays a bad shot and gets out. But this tournament has been good for him; he is a good person and I hope he continues to score.
When he used to bat, one would feel the need to romanticise the game of cricket. Often one doubted if the willow could actually work the kind of wonders that VVS Laxman performed. Seldom would you associate art with batting, but Laxman made you do that and believe there was an artist at work on the 22-yards canvas.
Now, the times have changed, the game has evolved, entertainment has crept into the gentleman’s game and fast-paced cricket is the order of the day. Ask VVS Laxman if this is a welcome change, and the purist in him would choose to look at the competitive nature of T20s with a gentle smile. He confessed his love for ‘timing’ over ‘brute force’ and said that he still considered Tests to be the litmus test for a cricketer.
Despite his reverence for the five-day format, the ‘Very Very Special’ batsman appreciates the skill sets of batsmen in the shortest format of the game as well.
From beyond the boundary ropes, under the mentor’s hat, sits a master batsman, who sat down for a chat with IPLT20.com to analyse arguably the three most dangerous batsmen in T20 cricket – Glenn Maxwell, AB de Villiers and MS Dhoni.
Here are excerpts from a very very special interview:
The Big Show: Glenn Maxwell.
Laxman’s take – “Most fearless batsman this IPL”
What has been the key aspect of Glenn Maxwell’s batting this year?
Fearlessness. That is one thing that we saw very briefly in the ICC T20 World Cup this year. He was playing fearlessly, attacking from ball-one without the fear of losing his wicket, which has worked well for him and for Kings XI Punjab. The only difference between the T20 WC and the IPL is that he is converting starts into big scores. He is talented and skillful and can play a lot of innovative shots. What differentiates him from the other batsmen in this tournament is the fearlessness, which has helped him succeed.
Does he signify fearlessness in a format where it is needed the most?
Without a doubt! For someone to come and hit the first ball for a six, shows his mindset and shows the kind of confidence level he has at the moment. He is playing to his strengths. He does not have one or two shots that he relies on. He can play an array of shots and play a couple of shots for each and every delivery. If the same ball is pitched on the off-stump, he can hit it through midwicket and at the same time reverse-sweep it over point. That skill and the ability he possesses to destroy bowling attacks, make him a very dangerous batsman.
He has hit a purple patch this season. If you were Maxwell’s coach, would you talk to him constantly or just let him be?
I would just let him play the way he has played and I would just ask him to assess the situation better and win matches for his side. He has done it and there has been a vast improvement on that aspect from the T20 World Cup. He is learning from every game and he realises the importance of David Miller, Virender Sehwag and himself in that Kings XI squad. I have always felt that it doesn’t matter how quickly you get the runs as long as that innings has an impact on the result of the game.
How would you describe Maxwell in one word?
(Smiles) Destructive. Absolute AB.
Laxman’s take – “Most complete batsman in the modern era”
Is he the most complete batsman in the modern era?
Yes, he is without a doubt; and I feel Maxwell is getting there. Like Maxwell, AB can play shots all around the wicket. He has got three or four shots for one delivery. There is nothing that he cannot do when he is batting. He is quick on his feet and in his thought process. To execute some of the shots he has played, one has to have a quick mind, which he has done effectively not only to mediocre bowlers but also to the best in the business. He is quick on his feet, always thinking, and an exceptional runner between the wickets, which makes him a complete cricketer.
Does he have the perfect blend of orthodox cricket and T20 cricket?
Yes, you are right. That is why he is complete. Because of his good basic technique, even on tough conditions, he can adapt quickly. To unsettle the opposition, he can play some freak shots and get his innovation into the picture and change the game singlehandedly. He has the potential to play aggressively and be defensive at the same time.
The most astute cricketing brain when it comes to batting?
I do not know him personally, but the way he bats, you can make out that he responds to a particular situation in a certain way. AB exactly plays the way he should in a particular situation.
MS Dhoni: The Monk.
Laxman’s take – “The perfect combination of brain and brawn”
One thing that every cricketer would want to have that MS Dhoni has?
Temperament. The reason MS Dhoni has been so successful, is his temperament and situational awareness, which is so important for a cricketer. He understands exactly what is to be done as a captain and as a batsman in a particular situation, and he delivers more often than not. You may have the best technique and skill, but you need to know when to do what, which Dhoni does brilliantly. His game is totally different when he comes to bat early and when he bats down the order during pressure-cooker situations, which all boils down to situational awareness. Has he put more thought into his batting over the years?
Yes, he has, and a lot of it. The Dhoni during his debut was one-dimensional and the opposition bowlers could make him play according to their plans. But it is amazing how he has progressed as a batsman. He understands his own game and has the hunger to keep improving. I would say that MS Dhoni is an all-round player now.
This calmness that he is known for, is it his nature or does he make a conscious effort to be that way?
Calmness cannot happen overnight and it is a conscious decision by him to be calm. Especially when you are leading the side, you don’t want your captain to be restless or panic. Right from the first day I saw him, MS Dhoni has always remained the same. He has always taken cricket as a sport, which I think is his biggest strength. He doesn’t get emotionally attached to the result. He will be disappointed if the team losses, but he is not someone who will brood over the loss. He is always looking to start afresh. He is a very balanced cricketer and there are very few I have seen in my career who are as balanced as MS Dhoni.
Is he the perfect example of a cricketer who uses his brain and brawn to good effect?
He does no doubt. He is one player who has succeeded because of his brain. It is only because of what is between his two ears that he has succeeded. It is the main reason why he has become one of the legends of the game.