Michael Hussey - Mike's Corner

Michael Hussey

'Mr. Cricket' has emerged as one of the greatest batsman under pressure of late. Here he explains his game.

Tuesday, March 25, 2022
Building the perfect innings

Build a big, high quality total in the middle by going back to the basics with your preparation and maintaining razor sharp focus

My batting preparation starts with eating right and ensuring I am fit for a game, followed by adequate training just before a match. It is important leading into a match that you have everything in order. When you are in the nets and are preparing for your next game, make sure that you are happy with your routine.

I like to ensure that I am watching the ball closely, my stance is correct and I am executing my shots. It is also essential to bat in the nets like you would in a match. Don’t go chasing wide balls or slogging because you will then carry those traits into a game and that could lead to your downfall. Also, try and face bowlers in the nets that you will be facing in a match. If the opposing team has a lot of left-handed bowlers in the forthcoming match, I will try to face as many left-hand bowlers in the nets prior to the game as possible. It will give you a good feel for the angle of the delivery.

When you first walk out onto the wicket, try to remain as calm as possible. Obviously, you will initially be nervous but it is important to try and not let that affect your shot selection. Have a look at the wicket, take guard, look around at the field settings, go through your routine that you have before every ball, and then settle at the crease ready to face your first ball. Don’t let the bowler or fieldsmen rush you. You will hear a lot of chatter from the fieldsmen when you first come out to the wicket and it is important to block that out. They are only trying to upset your concentration.

If you receive a good ball and it beats or you didn’t find the middle of the bat with the last shot you played it is important to block that out too. Whenever a bowler beats me with a good delivery, I always say to myself “that good ball is gone now”. The positive side of it is that you haven’t got out to it.

The first half an hour at the crease is crucial. I generally think if you can survive that then you can set yourself up for a long innings. The first half an hour is tricky as you adjust to different bowlers, the conditions, light, your batting partner and constant field changes. It is important to take it all in and constantly play each ball on its merit.

That is one of the keys to building a big innings. Play each ball on its merit. Whether you have just been beaten by a good ball or hit a four block that out of your mind and wait for the next delivery.

I set myself time periods to stay in for. I never put pressure on myself to score runs because if you are out there long enough they will come. During an innings the scoring rate will go through ebbs and flows so don’t get flustered if you don’t score for a while.

Getting singles early on helps rotate the strike, accumulate runs and settle in at the crease.

As a former opening batsman, I was used to facing fast bowlers as soon as I came to the crease. Now, batting at No.4, I can often face a spin bowler first up, which I might add, I prefer now. That is something too you should keep in mind when you practice.

It is imperative when you bat to play your own game. I try not to look or converse with the bowler or opposition or get too worried about the pitch. I tick all the boxes in my own head and when I play to my strengths is when I perform my best. For a while there I was struggling with the bat because I was trying to play like Matty Hayden, Ricky Ponting and/or Adam Gilchrist. That wasn’t my natural game, it was theirs and it became detrimental. So, keep a clear mind and play to your own strengths, not someone else’s.

Concentrate on setting yourself goals and don’t get too far ahead of yourself. Personally, it is easier for me to lose concentration when I am in my 30s or 40s because I am thinking about scoring a 50, than it is to face the first ball after I have scored 100. The same happens when I am in my 70s or 80s because I am looking ahead to 100. That little lapse can lead to your downfall.

Always work closely with your partner to encourage each other and understand the other’s game. We are lucky in the Australian team because we know each other so well that we have a good understanding running between the wickets. Still, when Phil Jaques came into the Test team this year it took a while to understand his strengths and weaknesses.

I think it is important to have your own plan on how to play a bowler. When we played Sri Lanka each batsmen had a plan on how to tackle Murali and that worked to our advantage as it kept the opposition guessing.

When batting with tailenders, I try to encourage them to stay positive and it also allows me to play a few more shots because some of the pressure is off.

Overall, you need to relax, enjoy the game, play one ball at a time and know your own strengths and weaknesses.

Mike Hussey’s batting tips

1) Focus on basics in the nets
2) Don’t copy other batsmen’s styles
3) Focus on survival in first half hour
4) Block out opposition fielder taunts
5) Relax and thrive in the challenge

Source - Inside Cricket Magazine