It may have been one of the quieter off-seasons for Nottinghamshire but supporters certainly won’t mind that, given the confirmation that David Hussey will be returning to Trent Bridge this summer.
The hard-hitting right-hander will be available for the mid-season t20 campaign and the second half of the LV= County Championship programme.
It’s hardly been a secret that Mick Newell, the county’s director of cricket, has wanted to get ‘Huss’ back in his squad for a while now but a combination of IPL commitments, Australia ODIs, Australian A tours and Champions League training camps have restricted his availability in recent times.
Adam Voges spent most of last season deputising as the county’s overseas player and fellow-Aussie Ed Cowan will be around for the first part of the 2013 campaign.
The return of Hussey, though, will set the pulses racing and give Notts a realistic chance of challenging for the title, despite it being one of the most competitive-looking Division One line-ups for some time.
"I have fond memories of Huss regaling me with tales of meeting the Dalai Lama."
Hussey, who will be 36 in July, first played for the county in 2004. He was only available for one first class appearance in 2011 before being whisked away for a Victoria boot-camp and he was then engaged on international duty last summer, so his long-awaited return to West Bridgford will be greeted with understandable enthusiasm from fans and team-mates alike.
Watching him at close quarters it’s clear that his presence lifts those around him and he has played his part in two County Championship successes since linking up with Notts.
I read some time ago that he was the only current player with a first class average of over 54 not to have played Test cricket.
Whilst that average has now dropped to 53.7 I guess the statistic is still valid and a reflection – one way or another – of the talent at Australia’s disposal.
Either it’s criminal that they haven’t used him or a commendation of those that they have backed.
There is still time for him, of course, especially with the international retirement of his brother Mike Hussey, which leaves a gaping hole in the Aussies middle-order. Will they replace one brother with another?
The fact that Huss has signed his new Notts contract and the willingness by Cricket Australia to release a No Objection Certificate would seem to indicate that he won’t be involved in the forthcoming Ashes battle – though it could be a concern for the county if the tourists run up a few injuries and he strikes the kind of form we know he is capable of.
In 72 first class matches for Notts he has stroked 22 centuries, three of them double-tons – and averages over 64.
It’s not entirely accurate to say his worth to any team is immeasurable because King’s XI Punjab found the going rate by successfully bidding $1.4 million for his services in the last IPL auction and he will be playing for them again prior to rejoining Newell’s side.
Known as ‘Mr T20 Cricket’ in his homeland, Huss has become a true specialist in the shortest form of the game.
In demand around the world for his prowess at t20 it’s worth remembering that he has still played more Twenty20 matches for Notts Outlaws, 59 with an average of 34.55, than he has for anyone else and successfully skippered the side to Finals Day in 2010.
Indeed, the photograph of him and Kieron Pollard, arm-in-arm after the rain wiped out the Outlaws chances at The Rose Bowl, is one of the lasting images of that unfortunate day.
That blow left the Australian with some unfinished business and Notts’ odds of lifting this year’s domestic competition will have shortened considerably after today’s news.
I have my own fond memories of Huss: Regaling me with tales of meeting the Dalai Lama – and having his newborn child blessed by the religious leader, seeing him slam the ball into the glass at the front of the Trent Bridge Media Centre, his faultless unbeaten 250 at Headingley and his down-to-earth mingling with fans and supporters at Chris Read’s charity match at Car Colston.
Whatever David Hussey does, he does it with class - and he’ll be sure of the warmest of welcomes when he arrives back in Nottingham in June.