cricket / short form / stats

Going when the going is good

Mike Hussey has retired from tests, surprising the cricketing world. He may be 37, but his numbers in recent years have suggested his game is still top notch. It is also a stark contrast to other retirements in recent years of prolific batsmen, often after years of struggling.
Dravid, Laxman, Strauss and Ponting started to feel their age at the end of their careers. With the exception of Dravid, all were under some pressure to hold their place in the team. Their contributions to their sides through leadership and and experience cannot be questioned, but for some lack of runs at the end forced their hands. This table compares their average in their final 12 months, compared to their career average:
Batsman
Tests
Career Average
Tests- last year of career
Last year of career average
Dravid
164
52.31
14
51.04
Hussey
78*
51.52
11
59.86
Laxman
134
45.97
14
36.58
Ponting
168
51.85
12
43.21
Strauss
100
40.91
12
33.50
These statistics do not indicate that suddenly these greats became bad batsmen. Rather, it shows the naturalness and inevitability of the gradual loss of ability as a player gets older. Dravid managed to grind out runs until the end of his career, but Ponting, Strauss and Laxman all had tough final years.
This table also shows why Hussey’s retirement is such a surprise. He was under absolutely no selection pressure. Behind Captain Clarke, his was probably the 2nd name put on the team sheet before every match. As recently as November he scored two centuries against South Africa in three games, an excellent achievement. This month he dominated the Sri Lankans too, especially in Hobart. Time and again he has saved the blushes of the top order.
Hussey has commented, saying the desire to carry on has left him. His greatest strength was his work ethic and meticulous preparation. However, with young children at home he found it tough to care about cricket. As reasons for retiring go, that is one of the most honourable. Hussey will go out on a high, and in the cricketing imagination he will be remembered at his best, rather than as a player who outstayed his welcome.

2 thoughts on “Going when the going is good

    • My favourite Hussey anecdote was from someone who used to watch him on TV when he played for Western Australia (can’t remember who.) The quote was that when Hussey came in to bat, he’d go and mow the lawns, knowing full well he would still be batting when he finished.

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