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I’d like focus to be on Tests: Hussey

Calcutta: David Hussey, who joined the Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) on a high, scoring a crucial 168 in the second innings of the Sheffield Shield final for Victoria against Queensland, an innings which helped his state emerge victorious, spoke to The Telegraph the other day.

Hussey, incidentally, has again been selected for the World T20 meet.

The following are excerpts

Q You’ve reported at a critical stage in the tournament...

A Quietly going along, aren’t we? The morale, I’d say, is still pretty good... We won the must-win game against the Kings XI Punjab, but lost the next (to the Delhi DareDevils).

This is your third season in the IPL. Just how different is it playing for a franchise?

Well, first of all, I’ve really enjoyed playing for KKR... It’s a wonderful franchise to be a part of, it’s like family... The difference is that one is with KKR for a matter of weeks only... It’s different when one plays for Australia or Victoria. The goals, though, are the same — do well, individually, and help the team do well.

Why do you think the first two seasons went horribly wrong for KKR?

To be honest, I can’t really put a finger on one thing. We probably didn’t gel as quickly as we possibly could have. This time, we’ve got the right recipe and if we put all that good stuff off the field, on to the field, we won’t be that far away.

What does it take to be successful in T20?

Playing with a free mind... Going out there and backing your own ability... If that means hitting four sixes in an over off one particular bowler, well do it... If that means bowling four yorkers and getting two wickets in an over, just do it... It’s all about backing yourself and executing plans...

There’s a cap on four foreign players in the XI... Can it get frustrating?

Yes, it’s one of those things... It’s the Indian Premier League, so it should stay that way... Even if you’re on the sidelines, you should still be supporting teammates.

You fetched over $600,000 in the first auction. Did that come as a surprise?

(Smiles) Yeah, it did. I didn’t realise that it was going to be that much of a financial game. That I wasn’t really playing international cricket at that time, I think, was my biggest advantage.

Did you expect the IPL to take off in the manner it has?

I did, actually. I thought that the first season was unbelievable, the start of something big... Clearly, it’s going to get bigger and bigger. I hope it goes global.

Anybody outside KKR with whom you’ve struck a rapport with...

Yeah, three-four players, actually... I’ve spoken to (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni a few times, he’s a very nice man. So is (Virender) Sehwag, he’s always been very good to me... I’ve enjoyed talking batting with him.

The Husseys (elder brother Mike being the other) seem to get noticed rather late... Why’s it that the people who matter noticed both of you rather late?

(Laughs) I’m not really sure... It’s one of those things, perhaps... I guess we matured later, probably took time to understand our game a bit better... Mike’s been fantastic since he began his international career (in 2004, as a 28-year-old)... Hopefully, he continues and I definitely want to play with him, at the Test-level, at some stage.

Do labels, for example, you’re seen as a T20 specialist, harm players?

I feel a little bit disappointed for the others... I think Mike’s one of the best T20-batters around (but hasn’t played for Australia for 10 months)... As for me, I don’t want to be labelled as a T20 specialist... I’d like to be a specialist in all forms of the game... As I’ve said, I’d love to play Test cricket... At 32, I’m not getting any younger and (only) injuries in the team may help!

What drove the two of you to cricket?

Yeah, there were options available... We grew up on the beach, but Mike and I loved playing cricket... Loved watching Rod Marsh, Dennis Lillee on the TV... We’d analyse them and, I guess, fell in love with the sport...

You idolised Marsh and Lillee, but who did you actually look up to as a mentor of sorts?

Our parents, Helen and Edward, the most... They encouraged us to take up cricket... Fact is that if you want to be good at something, make sure you put in the hours, make sure you become very good at it. That’s what they instilled in Mike and me.

Mike’s debut was at the age of 28, you made your first appearance as a 30-year-old... Sweating it out on the domestic circuit, for years, must have been frustrating?

It’s tough, actually. You play well and you think, maybe, you’ve earned a chance to play for Australia... But when the team is selected, you find you’ve been passed over, again. There’s a sense of relief when you’re finally there and finally achieving your goals...

What have you learnt from Mike, once labelled Mr Cricket?

Mike works extremely hard... Whatever he does, he has to be a perfectionist and won’t go home until, say, a shot has been perfected. So, the No.1 person I’d like to be like is Mike. For the work he puts in, he will reap the rewards later on in life, too.

Is there an intra-Hussey rivalry?

Of course there is. We both want to outdo each other... Mike’s got me at the moment, but (Smiles)...

Do you remember how the family celebrated when Mike got his maiden Test cap (against the West Indies, November 2005)?

Our parents were there to watch that game in Brisbane... I was in Melbourne then, playing for Victoria... I had to be satisfied watching Mike on the TV... Yeah, it was a great moment for the family.

Your Australia debut was in a T20 match against India (Melbourne, February 2008). What were your emotions then?

To be honest, in the build up, I didn’t actually understand what it meant to play for Australia... I was at dinner with my fiancé, when I got the call and, I guess, it was a bit surreal... To play at the MCG, the home of cricket in Australia... It probably took an hour for everything to sink in and, then, the nerves started... Debut against such a powerhouse like India and in front of a massive crowd... I didn’t get to bat, but did get Dhoni’s wicket.

You’ve been around in ODIs, T20s... What have you learnt in the past two years or so?

A lot... Learnt by just chatting with a Sourav Ganguly... Chatting about the approach that needs to be adopted... I’ve learnt how to respond to different situations...

A Sourav fan...

A big fan of Sourav’s... He’s helped me a lot, by just talking cricket in general... Also, as a person, he’s made me grow up a little bit... Hopefully, we will continue being friends for many years to come.

What makes Australia’s domestic cricket so competitive?

We have only six teams and, so, just 66 of the best players get to be on the park... The focus is on quality... Then, we don’t play a great deal... Therefore, everybody’s fit and healthy... Playing their best cricket and trying to help win every game.

In your view, what’s the driving force?

The No.1 motivation is to be the best in the business... That we lost the No.1 ranking in Tests, last year, came as a massive shock... We’re still No.1 in ODIs, though...

Australia’s T20 record is quite disappointing. Why?

Probably because the international players haven’t played enough of it. Hopefully, we will set things right in the West Indies (in the upcoming World T20).

Your take on Ricky Ponting...

As a captain, he’s fantastic. He’s got a great cricket brain. As a person, he’s very easy going, a good bloke to know.

You made your debut as a T20 player and, so, that form will remain special for you. What are your thoughts on the other forms?

I’d like the focus to be on Test cricket... Test cricket has a massive part to play... Of course, I love T20 as it’s very fast and your skills get tested all the time... I think there’s space for the 50-over game as well. We’ve seen some wonderful ODIs, haven’t we?

How do you unwind?

I’ll probably just read a book, I’m pretty dull and boring.... I get into my room and just read. I like reading the newspaper when at home, I’m getting old, you see (Laughs). My favourite book is To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, a classic... I’ve probably read that six or seven times. I’ve also enjoyed reading John Grisham’s A Time to Kill and Rainmaker...

Lastly, what’s the best way to handle pressure?

By not worrying about what anybody thinks of you... Focus on your game and be determined.

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