Hussey to end on a high, with no regrets

Michael Hussey is all concentration during a match against Sri Lanka. Photo: AP
Michael Hussey is all concentration during a match against Sri Lanka. Photo: AP

The thought of playing on to next year's Ashes filled Mike Hussey with dread rather than excitement, and that's why Australia's consummate cricketer knew it was time to go.

Hussey's retirement announcement came suddenly but he had been dwelling on it for a while as the demands of relentless touring took a toll on him and his young family.

The exceptional 37-year-old's decision to leave international cricket, on his own terms and on top, after the New Year's Test against Sri Lanka, leaves a huge hole in Australia's Ashes plans but will deliver personal contentment to Hussey, who has four children under eight.

''The last away trip, just the volume of time that you're actually away, it gets harder and harder, really,'' Hussey said on Saturday night. ''Instead of looking forward to the tour of India and being excited by an Ashes series, I was dreading it. If you're not 100 per cent in it, you shouldn't be there, you're probably just going to let the team down. That was the clincher. I wanted to see how I felt about it throughout the Australian summer but my feelings haven't really changed, so I'm very comfortable with the decision.''

''The last two away tours in particular have been quite brutal. We really struggled through a 3½-month stint and then the next one was 3½ months away. The next stint was going to be 6½ months away and I just really don't want to do that.''

Hussey informed captain Michael Clarke and coach Mickey Arthur night of his decision on Friday night. It came as a shock to them, following his 475 runs this summer at 79.16, with three centuries. On Saturday, he contacted each of his teammates individually to share the news.

It is less than a month since the retirement of champion and former captain Ricky Ponting, who had shown his age in a way Hussey has not, though his form waned between the 2009 and 2010-11 Ashes.

Hussey survived, and expressed pride at having forged a late but stunning career that spanned 78 Tests and produced 6183 runs at an average of 51.52, just a tick below Ponting's.

''I feel really happy actually,'' he said. ''I feel like I've been able to accomplish way more than I ever dreamed of, so I can walk away not feeling like I've got to do something more or prove anything else to myself.

''I'm excited about the future and looking forward to sitting back when it is all completely finished and just reminiscing over the great times I have had.

''It does feel good, to know I'm still in the team and not have that horrible feeling of not playing very well or thinking that you're going to be left out of the team and finishing that way. I'm quite lucky in that respect. Not many people get to go out on their own terms.''

Usman Khawaja is the batsman most likely replace Hussey when the team tours India after the Australian summer.

Hussey, who has spoken of a desire to captain his home state of WA after his Test career, said he would relax and enjoy his Sydney farewell.

''I felt a bit emotional through the Melbourne Test, to be honest. The last time playing in a Boxing Day Test at the MCG is pretty special and waving to the crowd afterwards, I thought I'm certainly going to miss this. But I'm looking forward to when it's all done. There'll be no more stress, no more pressure … I can just relax and enjoy the game, no more having that sick feeling in my stomach before I go out and bat every time.''


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