Michael Hussey, while in conversation with former Australia teammate Shane Watson on the Lessons Learnt with the Greats podcast, recalled how criticism from Michael Slater had spurred him on to score 195 against England in the first Ashes 2010/11 Test at the Gabba.
Hussey wasn’t in the best form leading up to the series. Playing for Western Australia, he scored 0 and 3 in a 2010/11 Sheffield Shield encounter against South Australia before another duck in the first innings of the next match against Victoria.
“There were a lot of emotions going through my mind,” said Hussey. “Leading into the Ashes series, there was a lot of talk about my place in the team. I was in my mid-30s, and we played two Sheffield Shield matches leading into that series. Against South Australia, I made 0 and 1 , and then we were playing against Victoria at the MCG and I got a duck in the first innings.
“You can imagine that with the Australia A game going on at the same time down in Hobart, all the commentators were talking about how it’s time for me to go, and time to try Callum Ferguson, time to try Usman Khawaja. And even Greg Chappell, who was one of the national selectors at the time, he came up to me in Melbourne after that first innings and said, ‘Look, we really want to back you, but can you just score some bloody runs please.’”
In the second innings of that match against Victoria, Hussey scored 118 to revive his career. He has now revealed how Slater’s criticism in particular stung him. “So I was under the pump coming into that second innings of that Shield game and thankfully I managed to get some runs and the selectors showed that faith in me coming into that first Ashes Test,” he said. “The weird thing was I actually felt like I was batting well, but was just finding ways to get out cheaply.
Happy birthday, Michael Hussey!
That’s as clean as a six gets hit 😯
— Wisden (@WisdenCricket) May 27, 2020
“It’s amazing how those external distractions can get into your mind. And there was one in particular. Michael Slater was commentating down in Hobart for the Australia A game and he was the one who was quite vocal saying it’s time for me to go, it’s time to bring in those other guys.
“And I remember every single time during that innings up at the Gabba, every time I tapped my bat I said, ‘Stuff you, Michael Slater.’ I don’t like to normally listen to the outside influences, but it was hard to filter everything out going into that series.”
Hussey eventually went on to score a career-high 195 in the first innings of the first Test against England, which finished in a draw.