Hussey to line up for last hurrah

Mike and Amy Hussey with children Jasmin, Will, Molly and Oscar (baby) at the players' luncheon on Christmas Day.
Mike and Amy Hussey with children Jasmin, Will, Molly and Oscar (baby) at the players' luncheon on Christmas Day.

THE thought of playing on to next year's Ashes filled Mike Hussey - heartbeat of the Australian batting order and custodian of the team song - with dread, not excitement. That's when he knew it was time to go.

Hussey told captain Michael Clarke and coach Mickey Arthur on Friday night of his decision to leave international cricket, on his own terms and on top, after the Sydney Test against Sri Lanka.

He led the team in a beer-soaked rendition of ''Beneath the Southern Cross I stand, a sprig of wattle in my hand'' - a duty he inherited from Justin Langer - in the middle of the MCG hours after Australia took an unassailable series lead.

The 37-year-old wants to belt it out one more time at the SCG, but feels completely comfortable about turning his back on tours of England and India after a challenging year during which the demands of touring took a toll.

Hussey has four children under eight including six-month-old Oscar, who was born prematurely last winter. Though his sudden retirement leaves a huge hole in Australia's Ashes plans, it will bring personal contentment. ''The last away trip, just the volume of time that you're actually away, it gets harder and harder, really. 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'm very comfortable with the decision,'' Hussey said.

''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.''

On Saturday, Hussey contacted his teammates individually to share the news, which came as a shock on account of his 475 runs this summer at 79.16, with three centuries.

It comes less than a month after the retirement of Ricky Ponting.

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

''I feel really happy, actually. 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.

''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. I'm lucky in that respect. Not many people get to go out on their own terms.''

Hussey, who has spoken of a desire to captain his home state of Western Australia, will relax for his Sydney farewell. ''The last time playing in a Boxing Day Test is pretty special and waving to the crowd afterwards, I thought I'm going to miss this. But I'm looking forward to when it's all done … no more having that sick feeling in my stomach before I go out and bat.''

This story Hussey to line up for last hurrah first appeared on Brisbane Times.