Thursday, November 12, 2009

Hussey almost certain of Test place

Michael Hussey believes his improved results since the end of the Ashes series should gain him a start in the first Test of the Australian summer. With a big push for Phillip Hughes and uncertainty over Shane Watson's role as an opener, Hussey's place has been under heavy scrutiny for the opening game against West Indies from November 26.

However, Hussey's excellent one-day series in India, where he scored 313 runs at 104.33, has given him confidence and he is one of seven players who have been rested from next week's Sheffield Shield matches. The move indicates the selectors want Hussey and the rest of the group to have a break before the first Test. Ricky Ponting, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Shane Watson and Nathan Hauritz will not feature in the state games following the heavy schedule during their winter.

While the team was in India Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said deciding on Hussey's future would be one of the most difficult calls, but his stance has softened as the batsman's performances have improved. "I think scoring a hundred in my last Test [at The Oval] hopefully helps, and scoring runs on this tour hopefully really helps as well,'' Hussey told AAP. "But certainly my results haven't been as I would have liked in the last 12 months.

"There's always going to be speculation if you're not putting performances on the board. I feel like, in the last few months, I have been able to put performances on the board, so hopefully that stands up well for the selectors.''

Hussey expects his position to be analysed closely by Hilditch and his panel. "I just hope that they retain the faith in me," he said, "and I hope I can repay them if selected.''

Tom Moody, the Western Australia coach, was shocked by the decision to rest Hussey and Mitchell Johnson from their Sheffield Shield game against Victoria on Tuesday. "They haven't played a longer form of the game since the last Test match in England, so it's a significant difference in batting and bowling and standing in the field for potentially a day-and-a-half,'' Moody said. "You need that condition."

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