Running out of time has been an unfortunate theme during David Hussey’s latest tenure at Trent Bridge.
The affable Australian was left wondering what might have been when rain forced Notts from the field after his unbeaten 251 set up a winning opportunity against title-chasing Yorkshire at Headingley.
Eight days later, he ran past the on-rushing ground staff as the Outlaws bid for Friends Provident t20 glory ended in rain-induced Duckworth-Lewis heartache.
He answered a call to captain Victoria in the Champions League meaning that he missed the finale of Nottinghamshire’s LV= County Championship charge.
Hussey’s stock is at an all-time high having secured a lucrative presence on the booming Twenty20 scene but his decision to remain present for the conclusion of Victoria’s Sheffield Shield campaign despite contracted commitments to the IPL underlines the fact that his unfulfilled ambitions lie away from limited overs cricket.
Now 33, he still yearns for an opportunity to play Test cricket for Australia and is determined to do everything in his power to earn the chance to wear the baggy green before he calls time on his professional career.
“I still harbour an ambition to play Test cricket although it’s a goal that continues to elude me,” said Hussey, who has enjoyed six spells at Trent Bridge since 2004.
“I’m close to Chris Read and he’s the captain of the club and I saw my roll as helping him to win matches rather than taking on leadership."
“If I’m selected and don’t score the runs then fair enough but I want to test myself against the best players and teams in the world and I’ll work hard to try and earn a Test call.
“I’m not getting any younger but it’s still my goal and I have to score as many runs as possible and hope that it’s around the corner.
“I like to be known as a four day player primarily despite any success I might have had in limited overs cricket.
“I’m very much a traditionalist and the championship is the competition that I value most highly.”
Two years younger than brother Mike, Hussey puts the success the siblings have shared down to nurture and not nature. Although his grandfather played club cricket, his parents weren’t particular fans of the game but greats of the day and a competitive rivalry with Mike spurred him on.
“I had a great rivalry with my brother when we were growing up and there were lots of fights in the back yard but we still cared about each other and we’ve progressed as friends since we’ve grown up,” he said.
“I watched a bit of cricket on television with Dennis Lillee, Rod Marsh and Allan Border and I aspired to be like them.”
Hussey was rewarded for his first 1000-run Australian domestic season with a call to face West Indies in the 2008 ODI series and his first Cricket Australia contract. Kolkatta Knight Riders paid $625,000 to secure his services for the inaugural IPL dwarfing the sum offered to Australian captain Ricky Ponting. His new found IPL commitments contravened a long-standing agreement that he would be available to Notts for the start of the 2008 season but despite his default, relations were quickly restored to pave the way for Trent Bridge stints in 2009 and 2010.
“My motivations and reasons for coming back to Trent Bridge never change,” said Hussey.
“I enjoy the dressing room, I love playing at Trent Bridge and I like the fact that we push hard in all three competitions.
“The personnel change but the vibe in the dressing room and Mick Newell’s approach have always been constant in that he wants the best from every player that pulls on the shirt.”
Newell and Hussey share a close bond that has proved mutually beneficial.
The Nottinghamshire Director of Cricket plucked him from relative obscurity to fill the overseas spot in 2004 and he made an immediate impact. Demands from Victoria, Australia and Kolkatta have forced Notts to draft in alternatives at key times but if Hussey is available, he is and will remain Newell’s number one choice to fill the overseas slot.
“I was midway through an Australian summer and Mick rang to ask if I’d like to spend three months in England playing county cricket,” recalled Hussey.
“The chat was short and succinct but I jumped at the chance and ended up staying for six months and it’s gone on from there.
“It was an interesting dressing room when I first arrived and Mick had his work cut out because Kevin Pietersen was a key member of the team but had said publicly that he wanted to leave.
“There was a lot going on but it was a very enjoyable season because we won division two and had aspirations to go on and win the championship again which we succeeded in doing.
“Mick and I get on famously and speak a lot throughout the winter and hopefully we’ll stay in contact for some time yet.
“I love playing cricket here and I’ll keep coming back because I want to help Mick and the club to win silverware. That’s the number one goal that we all share.”
Hussey had arrived at Trent Bridge after just one season in Australian first class cricket where he had caught the eye with an unbeaten 212 to finish the season with 857 runs at an average of 61.
He repaid the faith with 1208 runs for Notts – 243 more than Pietersen’s contribution – before settling in to Australia’s ‘A’ side with a century against West Indies and a fifty against Pakistan. He returned to Trent Bridge in 2005 and maintained his place at the top of the scoring charts with 1231 as Nottinghamshire won the Championship and despite these key contributions, it is a mark of the man’s humility that he credits Notts for helping him to launch his career.
“Doing well at Notts definitely helped me to make progress in the Australian setup,” said Hussey.
“Playing well in English conditions helped my game and got me noticed because selectors have a lot of respect for county cricket.
“You’re playing and batting every day of the week and that teaches young cricketers a lot about their game.
Hussey’s standing at Victoria continues to reap benefits for Nottinghamshire’s recruitment strategy. Darren Pattinson and Dirk Nannes have both made sizable contributions having been approached by Newell and then convinced by Hussey.
“Dirk is a fantastic guy to have in the dressing room because he’s a little bit different given his back story and the uniqueness of how he goes about his business and Darren has had a brilliant season after falling behind a bit in 2009,” said Hussey.
“Both guys spoke to me before they came here and I will tell anybody that wants to listen that it’s a great club at a fantastic ground and the players are very well looked after. There’s a good relationship between Notts and Victoria and hopefully that continues for a very long time.
“I can’t talk highly enough of it and hopefully some of the emerging Victorian boys can come over to Trent Bridge and play county cricket.”
Chris Read continues to command the confidence of the Nottinghamshire dressing room having kept his team firmly in the top two ever since inheriting the captaincy in 2008. Read has no intention of passing on the honour at this stage but took a back seat to allow Hussey to draw on his experience to lead the side to the Friends Provident t20 Finals Day. Hussey led by example with a series of blistering knocks and innovative fielding strategies and admits that he would like to be considered for the club captaincy next time a change is made.
“When it was suggested to me that I should captain the team in Twenty20 cricket I tried to knock it back,” said Hussey.
“I’m close to Chris Read and he’s the captain of the club and I saw my roll as helping him to win matches rather than taking on leadership.
“Then I spoke to him and realised that he was supportive of it and I jumped at the chance.
“If the chance to captain this club came around because Chris no longer wanted to do it then I would put my name forward but maybe one of the younger players can come through and take the reins.
“Chris is doing a really good job and hopefully he’ll want to retain the captaincy for at least a couple more years.”
Hussey will have the backing of everyone at Trent Bridge as he strives to fulfil his remaining ambitions in the game but regardless of any future achievements, his past glories have already assured him of a place in the Nottinghamshire hall of fame.
This article first appeared in Covered, the official magazine of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club.