| Mike Hussey
Kuala Lumpur: Monday will be particularly special for two Australians: Thirtyone-year-old Michael Hussey and Matthew Hayden, 35. With Ricky Ponting taking a break, Hussey is going to captain for the first time, while Hayden will be making his first ODI appearance in 14 months.
Expectedly, both are wanting to make the most of the DLF Cup face-off against the West Indies. Owing to “operational reasons,” incidentally, the remaining league matches (beginning Monday) are going to begin an hour earlier.
According to tournament director Brendan McClements, play at the Kinrara Oval can now be extended by a maximum of 90 minutes instead of half-an-hour. The start for Sunday’s final, though, hasn’t been decided.
“I maybe a bit rusty (not having played the first two matches), but I’m excited... Ricky has had good plans and has put a good culture in place, but I’ll be making my own decisions,” Hussey pointed out on match-eve.
Talking to The Telegraph, Hussey (whose Australia debut was as late as February 2004) said he didn’t regard anybody as an “ideal” captain, but had been learning “bits and pieces” from quite a few. Essentially, he’s his own man.
The tri-series has already seen two icons make a comeback — Glenn McGrath and Sachin Tendulkar. Hayden, then, is only hours away from joining them.
“Our cricket is so strong that blokes like me are on the fringe... If a senior player like me is in this position, what does that tell the juniors' I know I haven’t been picked for the Champions Trophy, but the break after this is going to enable me prepare for the Ashes... I’ll be saving energy,” Hayden remarked.
Selection committee chairman Andrew Hilditch, of course, declared that he remained in the scheme of things for ODIs beyond this tournament: “We had to pick the Champions Trophy 14 before this event... He remains on our minds... Matthew doesn’t have to prove himself...”
Allrounder Shane Watson’s aggressive 79 as an opener Saturday may have queered the long-term pitch for Hayden, but his praise for the much younger player was lavish: “He’s exactly what Australian cricket needs... He worked hard in the off-season and has shown he can bat at any position... Teams need this flexibility...”
Hayden, in fact, had kind words for the explosive Mitchell Johnson as well. “With more exposure, I see Mitch taking his game to another level...”
That’s going to happen with time. Come Monday, however, and the West Indies must raise their game to another level if they’re to upset the world champions. They lost the opener (by 78 runs) from a position of strength and, as captain Brian Lara observed, they’ve got to maintain “sanity.”
Top quick Corey Collymore, meanwhile, hasn’t recovered from a right thigh muscle injury. The support staff, though, is working overtime.
Australia (from): Matthew Hayden, Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Nathan Bracken, Daniel Cullen, Glenn McGrath, Stuart Clark, Brad Hogg, Mike Hussey, Brett Lee, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds
West Indies (from): Chris Gayle, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Ramnaresh Sarwan, Brian Lara, Dwayne Bravo, Wavell Hinds, Dwayne Smith, Carlton Baugh, Ian Bradshaw, Jerome Taylor, Fidel Edwards, Runako Morton, Marlon Samuels, Corey Collymore
Umpires: Asad Rauf, Tony Hill. TV: Mark Benson.
Match Referee: Chris Broad.
Match starts: 11.00 am (IST).
Break for Team India
The Indians had a day off from cricket. In the afternoon, the Rahul Dravids underwent yoga and pool sessions. In the evening, they went to the Indian high commissioner’s residence for dinner.