Real Test Match Batting

In a week when England bit the Perth dust again, the one and only Sachin reached a milestone which once would never have seemed possible and another all-time great, Jacques Kallis, reached his first double-century in Test cricket, it could have been difficult to decide what to write about.

But to me the biggest story in the cricket world these past few weeks has been the form of Mike Hussey. A man who had been virtually written off as an international batsman but who has kept his team in the series with as measured a display of batting technique as you could ever hope to see.

Technical rigour, patience and stamina are unfashionable virtues these days. Relentless innovation and the hitting of boundaries can often seem to be all that matters as the more impulsive charms of the shortened forms of the game engage the senses of its newer acolytes more rapidly than Test cricket can. But this, from Hussey, has been real Test match batting: the advance selection of an appropriate gameplan, the persistence to see it through to its conclusion, and the shotmaking skill to bend England's often naive bowlers to his will.

At 35 Hussey is no tyro. But, while he is only a few months younger than Ponting, he belongs to a different generation of Australian cricketer. The generation who could never break into the Test side during the glory years and who instead were forced to earn their living abroad. While Hussey's basic skills were forged on the quick tracks of Western Australia they were polished on the English county circuit; at Wantage Road in Northampton, in the shadow of the Jessop Stand at Bristol, and at the Riverside. Holding poor sides together and piling up huge scores.

Hussey's batting over the past few weeks has been that of a man reluctant to give up something which he had to wait a long time to achieve. England have yet to discover an effective way of attacking him, but, with the series in the balance and Melbourne almost upon us, they need to do so soon.

Because, given the chance, he will bat, and bat, and bat.

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