David Hussey "embarrassed" with champion tag in retirement
IT becomes clear very early when talking to David Hussey just how humble he is.
He fittingly received a touching tribute at the recent Cricket Victoria end-of-season awards night for a stellar 12-year career with the Bushrangers.
Hussey scored 7476 runs for the Bushrangers at Sheffield Shield level in a 12-year, 105-game career, which netted four titles.
That puts him 29th on the all time leading run-scorers list at Shield level, with an average of 45.58, and 19 hundreds.
He never gave up - not debuting for the team until he was 25.
But for a man who also played 69 one-day and 39 Twenty20 internationals for Australia, his humility is staggering.
Hussey wanted no fanfare at all after announcing his retirement to teammates and friends at the Bushrangers' awards night.
APN had an in-depth and exclusive chat to Hussey about the ups and downs in his career, and what lies next in retirement.
Telling your friends and teammates that you were going to retire from first-class cricket - was that an emotional moment for you?
I wasn't really emotional on the night, my wife was more so. I didn't want to steal Ship's (Victoria coach Greg Shipperd's) thunder, with him moving on from his role after 11 years.
I was bit embarrassed on the night because Cricket Victoria made up a collage for me and presented it on the night.
It was really well done - it had some great pictures of key moments I've had with the Bushrangers, and listed all my achievements.
I was pretty embarrassed about it, but it was very humbling.
It was great - my wife actually didn't realise just how much success we had achieved as a group.
It must have been even sweeter for you to bow out with another Sheffield Shield victory - the fourth of your career ...
We didn't actually win the final - we drew it, but won the title because we finished on top.
The script went well for me though - I got to face the last ball of the season in my final match.
You mentioned Shipperd before - do you feel he was hard done by to be moved on by Cricket Victoria after winning a fourth Shield title?
Ship had been with us for 11 years in a row, and the year before this season we finished dead last.
The decision was made before we won the title to move in another direction.
But he was a fantastic coach and all the guys who played under him picked up some gold nuggets from him along the way.
In what ways did he help you throughout your long association with him at the Bushrangers?
Just the way he shaped my technique and advised me about my tempo while batting.
My natural instinct is to go out there and take the game on from ball one. But Ship got me defending when I needed to.
You worked so hard to achieve what you achieved in the game. You must be proud of what you did ...
It took a lot of hard work and sacrifice. A lot of people who aren't professional athletes from the outside looking in don't realise the work you have to put in to be successful at this level.
I just got fed up with the constant travel and being away from my wife and kids in the end.
But I wouldn't change a thing.
It's humbling when I look back on my career and see I won Sheffield Shields, and individual one-day and T20 awards.
When I'm an old man and sitting back in my rocking chair, I'll have some good memories to look back on.
You and your brother Mike were absolute run-scoring machines at first-class level. What did you learn off him in terms of staying patient, peeling off all those runs and playing for as long as you did?
A lot of people probably don't realise this, but Mike was a dour type of batsman early in his career.
He made his state debut for Western Australia because someone got injured - he was lucky to get his opportunity, but in that game he scored a hundred.
Mike taught me to have patience, have a good plan and stick to it.
He had a very good technique, and was also very good at leaving good balls, which I learned off him.
He was a great influence in that he was someone I could always go to and ask him stupid questions, and still get a decent response.
Mentally and physically, did you feel like you could have kept playing?
Mentally and physically yes. Genetically me and Mike are blessed because our parents were athletes.
Mum was good over 400 metres and Dad was a good sprinter, both during school.
I still love batting - I can do that for days and days, and I love the contest between batsman and bowler.
I'm going to miss the dressing-room banter after play, and going out for meals with the team.
But it's the fielding that takes a toll on you - you're out there for 100 overs some days.
How strong is your desire - now that you've retired from first-class cricket - to help the Melbourne Stars get that overdue breakthrough Big Bash League title win?
It's pretty strong. Getting Michael Clarke in as the captain was very clever, and it could be the final piece of the puzzle.
Melbourne people want to see some silverware, and it was disappointing to lose in the semi-final last year, and over the past four seasons.
It's a fantastic franchise, and I want to contribute to it.
So you're excited about Clarke coming in, and you having another go in the BBL next summer?
I might be biased, but Michael is the best international captain going around.
Although I would have liked to see Glenn Maxwell be given the vice-captaincy instead - I've signed on for next season, and maybe have one more left in me after that.
It could have been a great opportunity for him.
I enjoy playing T20 cricket - it's great for families, and my wife and kids enjoy it because it only goes for three hours.
Did you decide not to go around in the Indian Premier League this year, or did you get overlooked?
I got overlooked. To average only nine (playing just four games before suffering a broken hand) in last summer's BBL is not exactly going to cut holes in the IPL.
I had my time over there though and played seven years in that competition.
I was a little disappointed to miss out this year, but after a long summer it was probably a blessing in disguise.
What are your fondest memories of the IPL and those seven campaigns you had experiencing India?
Meeting superstars like AB de Villiers, Chris Gayle, Saurav Ganguly and MS Dhoni - talking cricket with them and taking some gold nuggets off them.
Just the fanfare - we're treated like kings and rock stars, and you are well looked after.
Who are some of the superstars you got to meet while playing in the IPL?
Shah Rukh Khan is one of the biggest Bollywood stars and I got to meet him when I was at the Kolkata Knight Riders (which the "King of Bollywood" owns).
I still keep in touch with him which is very humbling.
What about some funny stories - you must have a few ...
You get mobbed by crazy fans everywhere you go over there. There was one occasion when a fan came up to me and said 'I just want your autograph - I'm a huge fan of yours'.
Then he said 'I just want one picture - I'm a real massive fan of yours'.
I then asked him 'what's my name?' and he said 'I don't know'.
That's what the fans are like in India - cricketers get treated like gods over there, even when the people don't know our names.
Do you feel you were hard done by getting dropped probably earlier than you should have from the one-day team, and that you probably should have been given a go in the Test arena?
I would have liked to have played Test cricket. I'm not saying I deserved a go, but there was one stage when the selectors were going with younger players who probably weren't ready at the time.
I was given every opportunity to do well at one-day and T20 level though.
I was probably a bit scared of getting out at times when playing for Australia because I worked so hard to get to that level.
I see you enjoy Major League Baseball. Do you always try and watch games and highlights?
I love it. I try to watch the games on ESPN as much as I can and I love watching Baseball Tonight when I get the opportunity, even though I'm very time poor.
I wish I played baseball growing up.
Can you see a cricketer making a success out of that game if they were to cross over and have a go?
Yes, very much. I won't say the games are similar, but (former Australia fielding coach Mike Young, who has coached minor league baseball in the US) believes a guy like Mitchell Johnson could have made it to the Major League level.
Someone could definitely do what (former representative rugby league star) Jarryd Hayne's doing in the NFL and make that leap of faith.
You were a part-time batting coach at the Bushrangers last summer. Is that something you'd like to do now you're no longer playing at first-class level?
I'd like to stay in cricket in some capacity, maybe as a batting coach at Victoria.
I played a game with the Victorian second XI team last summer and I loved helping out the younger guys.
What do you try to preach as a coach?
Go out and have no fear, and take the game on. Aim high - why not try to score 500 runs in a day?