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How to dismiss Mike Hussey

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Tom Fordyce | 12:30 UK time, Thursday, 23 December 2010

Melbourne, Victoria

Two centuries in this Ashes series so far. Three fifties. 517 runs from just three Tests - six times more than his skipper Ricky Ponting - and an average of over 100.

How on earth can England stop the run machine that is Mike Hussey?

Having been one bad innings away from losing his place in the Australian side, Hussey has gone on to dominate the series. He saved his team from deep trouble in Brisbane, nearly rescued them in Adelaide and then took them to the brink of victory in Perth.

If England want to win the Ashes, Hussey is now the man they must stop.

Since they seem to be struggling, I thought a little outside assistance might be necessary. Who or what might hold the key to dismissing the immovable Mr Cricket?

Stats first. A little digging through the scorecards reveals that Hussey has been out caught 54 times in Test cricket, bowled 16 times, trapped lbw 16 times and run out once.
Compared to most batsmen, that's a slightly higher percentages of lbws than you might expect. Is there something there England could attack?

Bob Carter knows Hussey and his technique inside out. Having coached him at Northamptonshire during his first stint in county cricket, he still speaks to him regularly and has been exchanging tips and advice throughout the series.

Bob is now coach of Canterbury in New Zealand's South Island. Can he identify, I ask him over the phone, any technical weakness that might be exploited?

"I honestly can't," he says, slightly dispiritingly. "Mike's got one of the best techniques I've ever had the pleasure to see or work with. At one time there might have been a little bit of self-doubt there, and that might be why it took him so long to reach the top. But there's no self-doubt there now.

"Mike's very aware of where his off stump is. The way he stands at his crease, his set-up and the way he gets ready to face the ball is very still, and he plays every ball on its merits.

"His focus and concentration are also very good. If he does play and miss he'll play the next ball as he should; if he hits a four or a six, he'll play the next ball. Coupled with being very strong on either side of the wicket, and you have a very complete player. At the moment, Tom, I can't see that little chink in the armour."

Perhaps sensing the disappointment in my voice, Bob pauses. You can almost hear the chin being stroked.

Getting a top batsman out is about creating the opportunity," he says. "It's quite generic at times - trying to hit the top of off stump or just outside, as you would for Ricky Ponting. My plan would be to go across his off stump."

I thank him and pop round to see former England captain Michael Vaughan, in Australia as an expert summariser for Test Match Special. Could that line on off stump be the key?

"Hussey's so strong on the back foot that you've got to bring him forward," Vaughan tells me.

"Bring him forward on or around off stump. If the ball comes back I think you can get him lbw; he can also be vulnerable to leaving the ball on or around off stump and being bowled."

Is there anything Andrew Strauss should do with his field placings to help his bowling attack make the most of that opportunity?

Graeme Swann bowls to Mike Hussey

England will hope Swann can put Hussey under some pressure at the Melbourne Cricket Ground


"You can open up a batsman's off stump by getting him trying to drive through cover. For Hussey, I might leave a gap in the field at cover to try and draw a shot that might lead to an edge through to one of the slips."

I dig deeper into the statistical archives. Which bowler has dismissed Hussey more than any other player?

One name gradually emerges as the ultimate Hussinator - Adam Dale, once of Queensland, the Aussie one-day side and, briefly, its Test team too.

Dale took Hussey's wicket eight times in Pura Cup and Sheffield Shield cricket. He's also been retired for seven years. Might he, I wonder, fancy coming out of retirement and switching sides in time for the Boxing Day Test at the MCG?

"It would be fun, but I'm not South African so I'd probably struggle," he says with relish from his Melbourne home.

"When I played against Huss he was a lot younger. Since then he's matured and grown into a far better player than he was at that point. He's was probably only about eight years old when I bowled to him.

"If you put the player he is now back into that time frame, I wouldn't get him out and even though I did get him out, he'd still have made a lot of runs by that point."

Still, I say, eight dismissals is close to a hex. What was he doing that got the young Hussey in such a pickle?

"My goal was to try to get him making a late decision," he explains. "Because he leaves the ball so well, and is probably the best in the business at playing to his own strengths, you want him to have to wait.

"If I could entice him and get him to hit to cover I'd have a chance. Any time he hit to leg it would be run and run; anything too short and he'd punish you. But if you could make him make a late decision to hit to cover, you'd have a shout.

"He's also so good that he knows where his off-stump is. So being a swing bowler, the batsman's indecision becomes your big weapon - how far is it going to swing, when and which way.

"If you're bowling straight and can't move the ball, it becomes a much easier decision for him. But if the ball is swinging, it's much harder for him - does he let it go, does he let it hit his pads.

"Look to shape it across him, and then bring in back into him late. Mind you, that's the glory ball for every batsman, whether you're Michael Hussey or a Sunday cricketer. If you can achieve those sort of outcomes as a bowler and do it consistently, you throw the odds in your favour."

I thank Adam for his small betrayal and push on. In all three Tests so far, England have attacked Hussey with a short ball into the ribs. It got him out in the second innings in Adelaide, when he mis-pulled Steve Finn to Jimmy Anderson at mid-on, and also in the first innings in Brisbane, pouched by Alastair Cook at deep square leg.

Could this tactic be another option?

"I know they've got him twice out on the pull this series, but he's also scored very heavily with that shot," points out Carter. "Perhaps because of the form he's in they're trying to look at something else."

Vaughan is equally cautious. "I wouldn't rule out the bouncer, but make sure it's high. Don't bowl anything waist height or chest height, because he'll put you away.

"He got out on the pull in Brisbane because he only had the tail with him - the only mistake he's made was on the final morning in Adelaide, but Australia were having a collective bad match."

"Is there a particular type of bowler Hussey might struggle against? In England last summer he was trapped leg before by Stuart Broad on two occasions. Andrew Flintoff clean bowled him at Lord's, while Graham Onions achieved the Holy Grail by seeing him off for a golden duck at Edgbaston.

Trouble is, none of those three is available. Fred is retired, Onions at home in Durham recovering from a stress fracture to the back and Broad out of this series with a stomach injury.

Steve Finn has dismissed Hussey twice in this campaign. But he has also suffered at Mr Cricket's bat, going at a run a ball at the Waca, and is rumoured to be rested for the fourth Test at the MCG.

Which leaves Graeme Swann. He got Hussey twice in the 2009 Ashes (once caught at slip, once caught in the deep) and has bagged him twice this time around - caught at slip by Paul Collingwood again, and pouched behind the timbers by Matt Prior.

"It's quite difficult for a left-hander against a right-arm off-break bowler, when the ball is moving away from you, and Swann produced that wonderful ball to nick him out in Perth," says Carter.

"The danger for England is that Mike has gone after him. That's been a great move from Mike. He's gone out there with a no fear policy, and he's really flying. He's taken the ascendancy and put the bowlers under pressure, rather than the other way round. Once a batsman gets on top like that you're in trouble."

Vaughan, intriguingly, has a slightly tweaked take on the strategy.

"If I were captain I'd throw Swann on to bowl as soon as he comes in. Hussey has only ever faced Swann once he's been in and set. He's faced seamers at the start throughout the series. So no matter what the situation is when he comes to the crease, throw Swann on and see how he copes with it."

If that doesn't work?

"If Dale got him out with inswingers, I wouldn't rule out using someone like Paul Collingwood - someone different to what he's faced already.

"For the rest of the attack, you've just got to keep your plans simple. When someone's in good form you have to accept that you'll have to bowl as consistently as possible. If you start chasing it you're only going in his favour.

"One thing about Hussey is that he shouldn't really get on top of you. He won't intimidate you as a bowler by smashing you all over the place or putting you back over your head, so you should be able to block up an end by bowling dot balls. Build pressure."

I have one last ace up my sleeve. Alec Swann, brother of Graeme, played with an impressionable young Hussey in his first season of county cricket.

It was this unsung Swann who reportedly first came up with the Mr Cricket moniker. With that sort of insight into his character, does he have other mental games he thinks might work?

"Michael's a very personable chap - I never saw anyone who was able to ruffle him at all," he tells me on the phone from a snowy Northampton. "He just went into his batting zone, wouldn't bother saying anything to the opposition."

I press him. Surely there must be some form of sledging he's vulnerable to?

"Don't put him under any pressure," advises Swann. "Every time he's in danger of being dropped he comes out and scores a hundred, so make him feel as secure as possible.

"Tell him his position in the team is nice and safe, that he'll be playing for weeks to come. Then maybe he'll struggle."

So there we have it. Angle the ball across him, bend it back in if you can, don't drop short and don't bowl too straight.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    For all your investigative work Tom, it seems we've more or less drawn a blank on how to get Hussey out.

    One thing's for sure - we should limit the short balls and therefore the number of opportunities he has to play the pull shot. I like the idea of Vaughan's of putting Swann on as soon as Hussey comes to the crease. Another could be to get the seamers to bowl at him from around the wicket with a fuller length.

    Hopefully the law of averages will come to England's aid and Hussey will simply have a poor test - hell a couple of scores below 50 ought to do. I reckon he has been studying Clark kent, if his Christmas wish to Santa is anything to go by...

    Dear Santa... http://bit.ly/fQJOkw

  • Comment number 2.

    Good blog Tom

    Getting Hussey early out could well be the difference between winning and losing, as we've seen, if he gets seyyled he'll score big. If Finn (as rumoured) is rested, I hope that Shazhad gets a go, I thought he looked good in the Austalia A game - he looked really fired up.

  • Comment number 3.

    *out early even !!!

  • Comment number 4.

    So late swing angled across him and pitched up...anyone seen Matthew Hoggard recently?

    Alternatively does sound rather more like a bit of reverse, perhaps in the shape of Shahzad might be worth a go, although it does seem odd that our most out of form bowler is still the leading wicket taker in the series.

    Finally Collingwood should drop down the order, Bell has to be promoted, a flip-flop at 5 and 6 isn't altering the make up of the side too much and when Collingwood feels under the gun, much like Hussey, he produces so perhaps it'll push him back up to at least an average of 30!

  • Comment number 5.

    STOP WORKING OUT HOW TO GET HUSSEY!!!!!

    RATHER WORK OUT HOW NOT TO COLLAPSE!!!!!

  • Comment number 6.

    Errm, surely other International teams worked out how to get Hussey out otherwise he wouldn't have been under threat of getting left out at the start of the series. Perhaps a more relevant analysis would have looked at the 12 months before the Ashes series?

  • Comment number 7.

    Thanks Tom,

    If you ask me, Hussey's confidence can be his downfall. You have to test his will power. You have to bowl the correct length and line 99 times out of a hundred. Then, toss up a half volley or a slower ball to test if he can resist.

    Another tip is get cook and pietersen batting like they did in Adelaide to put their batsmen under pressure. And Bell has to convert his 50's into hundreds. He is the bet player in this series not to get a 100.

    And Swanny, dint worry about SPOTY. Phill Taylor and AP didn't deserve the titles.

  • Comment number 8.

    I have to agree with Saferblur, Englands bowling while not perfect in Perth wasn't the reason they lost the match.

    Australia posted a good but beatable total, beatable if England hadn't been woeful with the bat.

    Hopefully it was just a blip and we'll see a batting performance similar to the first two tests.

  • Comment number 9.

    If you put on Swann then you have to have an attacking field. There's no use putting him on and then letting Hussey take the easy single. The seam bowlers must keep it tight. None of this short stuff to release the pressure.
    Here's an idea, work out how he was bowled out just before the ashes started. He had a bad run then and since it has to still be fresh in his mind, it would be the easiest way to get him out and dent his confidence.

  • Comment number 10.

    Good blog and enjoyable read as ever.

    Agree with Pricey - when you're in form, you just feel as though no one can bowl to you, the ball looks like a basketball, and your first instinct is to look to score, rather than just keep the ball out.

    Back to basics surely - just off stump all day long, then the occasional wider one to tempt the drive, and hope it nibbles.

    For my money, the short ball is just feeding his strength.

  • Comment number 11.

    Gents.....

    Lets not worry about hussey and rather focaus on 17 ENGLISH WICKETS FALLING FOR 15 RUNS OR LESS = PROBLEM NOT ONE AUSTRALIAN BATSMAN.....

    I will be generous and give them all 15 runs giving 17 wickets a total of 255 runs!!!!!

    FORGET ABOUT HUSSEY AND FOCUS ON OUR BATTING!!!!!

  • Comment number 12.

    Good analysis QS.

    Don't mind short occasionally but half the over is short. TRY SOMETHING ELSE!

  • Comment number 13.

    saferblur, England always struggle at perth. Prior to that it was 1100-6 or something stupid. Do you think England have "forgotten" how to bat in the space of 1 test?

  • Comment number 14.

    kapnag

    struggling is one thing but 1100-6 and then 255-17 sounds more than a struggle but more so a major concern!!!!!

  • Comment number 15.

    Thanks Tom, I am sure Mr. Hussey will find this most instructive.

  • Comment number 16.

    but they always struggle at Perth. Not just this england side, most sides do.

    You want to forget the first two tests, focus entirely on the last test? It'll be completely different conditions to Perth, Johnson won't have the breeze assisting his swing, England's batsmen just have to go out there and pick up where they left off in Adelaide

  • Comment number 17.

    All this talk about getting Hussey out. If the team is so concerned and starts concentrating on getting his wicket, Ponting and Clarke who have so far been completely out of form, might suddenly slip past, and score heavily, and that would be a major problem for England. Remember, Ponting is due a big score, so we should ensure that he is kept under pressure at all times. Maybe bowl on the 'pinky' of his left hand, perhaps?

  • Comment number 18.

    "So there we have it. Angle the ball across him, bend it back in if you can, don't drop short and don't bowl too straight."

    And dont forget the reverse psychology sledging. Just dont let either Pietersen or Anderson near him. Neither of them can sledge, they'll just wind him up into a run scoring monster. Pietersen might even do something really scarey and put the fear of god into him.

    By asking him for his phone number. (KP, please close your mouth when at bat, you are there to bat, not to cruise for boyfriends - believe it or not, asking someone for their phone number is'nt going to intimidate them....yhea I know, crazy world!).

    At the same time, dont let vaughny anywhere near a keyboard in the run up to the boxing day test. Especially dont let him go through their batting order slating each one of them off as they appear to burst into form any time someone does that.

    So dont let him do that. Oh. He already did. Okay.

    In that case then, it does'nt matter what plan you come up for Hussey. KP and Anderson will have gobs on them, and Vaughny's put the mockers on the whole thing by insulting their entire batting line up. The way things seem to go in the press on this tour, as soon as you write one bloke off, he'll be there putting his bat in your face and scoring hundreds. Well done Vaughny. Thanks for the kiss of death.

  • Comment number 19.

    7. At 3:39pm on 23 Dec 2010, PRICEY112 wrote:

    And Swanny, dint worry about SPOTY. Phill Taylor and AP didn't deserve the titles.

    Are you joking? AP has won nearly double the number of races the next nearest person has and nearly more than numbers 2 and 3 put together, in addition to that he has been champion jockey 15 times and won every major race. He has dominated his sport for the last 15 years, he should have had his achievements recognised before now, not be scorned for winning. Can you name anyone other than Phil Taylor who in recent times has dominated a sport in such a comprehensive fashion??

  • Comment number 20.

    If you get rid of Collingwood you can lessen the impact of big Aussie scores the same for Prior.They are both not scoring any runs lets sort our own camp out first

  • Comment number 21.

    Great article, Tom: a wonderful insight into the bowler:batsman conundrum.

  • Comment number 22.

    England should just face up to the fact that they are in for another pasting!!!

    Stop Hussey, great strategy, he does not play alone and as has been pointed out here, Punter and Clarke are due big scores............so throw on Swann once Hussey makes an entrance and lets see what happens when the rest of the team bats!!!

  • Comment number 23.


    Set a split field and bowl just short of full outside off stump. He'll leave plenty but he wont leave them all especially if the other end is losing wickets. If he does leave them all he is left last man standing with 50 n/o off 300 balls then I'll not complain.

  • Comment number 24.

    #17 & #22, so you think if England work out a plan to get Hussey out they'll suddenly stop doing what they've been doing well against Punter and Clarke etc and let them get huge hundreds. All England team bowling plans etc go out the window? Do me a favour!

  • Comment number 25.

    It's simple, you don't try to get him out, you naturalise him. At Brisbane against Bell, they bowled wide of off so he couldn't reach the delivery. You do the same to Hussey, whilst attacking the the other end.
    Australia need a victory, stifling Hussey will be frustrating to him and his partner.

  • Comment number 26.

    There are so many ifs & buts on your analysis. Still you do recognise that if a batsman in form just bowl consistently. OK it makes a good read on your analysis, but consistency is the & should be the theme for both teams.Obviously whoever shows that trait is going to win!

  • Comment number 27.

    The goal is to contain the nemesis Hussey and get the other batsmen around him out. The plan must also include making him play the ball as often as possible, thereby inducing errors. Keep a continuous line on off-stump or just outside.

    Do not let him leave it alone. When you keep the ball in that area, you are likely to get out caught in the slip cordon or trapped LBW.

    England must also now worry about getting Ricky Ponting out. He is way overdue to explode with the bat. If anyone thinks that this batting champion will continue to fail, he is not being wise.

    I expect a big innings from the Aussie skipper at Melbourne.

    Shane Watson will continue to be a thorn in the in the side of England; and a rock for his country.

    It will not be an easy Test for England to win, by any stretch. But, as we have seen lately, anything can happen in this glorious game of cricket. Let's hope for the best.

  • Comment number 28.

    I there is no way to get Mike Hussey out early
    He is playing excellent and has been the most important batsmen for Australia so far

    It's a lot easier to get the other Australian batsmen out like Ponting, Clarke, Hughes etc

    England must first concentrate and getting out the weak Australian batsmen
    The pitch being prepared at the MCG is very important

  • Comment number 29.

    25. At 7:26pm on 23 Dec 2010, hopeforthebest wrote:

    It's simple, you don't try to get him out, you naturalise him.
    -----------

    Naturalise him by dishing out a passport I presume? Strange tactics, soon there will be no English born players left. And as he's actually made the Aussie team he may not be that keen....

  • Comment number 30.

    Why not just initiate 'Bodyline 2' that would sort them out

  • Comment number 31.

    Don't you think that Tom Fordyce bears a remarkable resemblence to the one batsman who could produce something sensational on the field of play yet has always flattered to deceive? The player in question has squandered his wicket on so many occasions through selfishness and lack of team spirit.

  • Comment number 32.


    Well...there you have it. The secret's out.

    A nice bit of analysis Tom, though ultimately fluff.

    Here are my suggestions for England to get Mike Hussey out:

    1) Have Anderson "sledge" him;
    2) Have Pietersen "sledge" him;
    3) Tell Swann to practice the "sprinkler" at covers;
    4) Get Matt Prior to invite him out to the carpark for a punch on; and
    5) Carry-on like the Urn's already won after one Test Match.

  • Comment number 33.

    If you look at Hussey's scoring chart he scores very, very little straight against the fast bowlers. Therefore I'd pitch the ball full of a length and make him drive with a short mid off and one deeper and straight. Dry up the runs and frustrate him.

  • Comment number 34.

    What will get Hussey out is a bit of courage from England.

    Instead of just trying to probe away with a nice full length hoping to induce a false shot, someone needs to steam in and poke him in the eye. That's right, poke him in the eye. With one fully functional optical asset he'll be rubbish......

    Beer chat.........................

  • Comment number 35.

    Generally the answer you seem to get is "good bowling at the top of off". That's always the case. If Anderson manages it he's the best in the world. "Get Swann on early" that is a good move, can anyone explain putting Collingwood on to bowl before lunch last test rather than Swann?

  • Comment number 36.

    Riggadon on 'Vaughny' - "....Especially dont let him go through their batting order slating each one of them off as they appear to burst into form any time someone does that."

    Yep, No greater motivation for an Aussie batsmen than Vaughny having a few digs at punter and pup. Expect big runs from either one of those two....

    Whilst on the subject of 'Vaughny', what about the possibility of bringing him out of retirement to bolster the increasingly frail english middle order...?(subject to a radical shuffle in the batting order of course). By the sounds of it, he obviously has a lot left to give....;-P

  • Comment number 37.

    Shazhad and Morgan for Collingwood and Finn. Finn just goes for too many runs at the moment. He needs to develop his game enormously but we've already seen what he can do so he can hold his head up with pride. Bresnan should be meat and drink for the Aussies sadly. Collingwood has to be one of my favourite players just for his grit, but sometimes talent needs to be favoured.

    The greats of cricket have always been thrown in at the deep end. Tendulkar started against Pakistan, Warne in the Ashes. I'm not saying Morgan is in that class, but how will you ever find out, playing him against Bangladesh and Spreadbet CC?? He showed his class in the T20 and ODIs, give him a chance to show it in a test. Colly, Love you but retire near the top!!

  • Comment number 38.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 39.

    All you cricket people sound like a bunch of random word generators to the average person. Some of it is like when you put something into Google Translate and run it through a few times back and forth between english and another language. Can't you guys just use plain English?

    Could someone please translate the following absolute total gobbledegook into English please:

    "He got out on the pull in Brisbane because he only had the tail with him"

    "You can open up a batsman's off stump by getting him trying to drive through cover. For Hussey, I might leave a gap in the field at cover to try and draw a shot that might lead to an edge through to one of the slips."

    "Look to shape it across him, and then bring in back into him late"

  • Comment number 40.

    #39
    Sounds like you're not a cricket fan?
    The pull is a shot where the ball has been bowled a fairly short distance from the bowler, making it bounce at a higher level when it reaches the batsman, meaning that he can "pull" the ball (bat at a horizontal level). The tail is the lower end of the batting order - the bowlers who are generally not very good batsmen.

    Cover is a fielding position. What is being discussed here is persuading the batsman, through the fielding positions, to play a shot to that position in the field (cover), which might lead the ball to clip the edge of the bat and go to one of the fieldsmen behind the batsman (the slips).

    Shaping it across him means to bowl at a certain angle (going across the front of his body basically in this case) and then hoping the ball will swing (swerve) back towards him and the wicket, thereby bowling him out, or having the ball hit his pads which might lead to him being given out for being leg before wicket.

    Hope this helps you.

  • Comment number 41.

    #38 Finn is the leading wicket taker for England in the series...? The only real rational reason for leaving him out from this match would be if he is unfit to play. Other than that, there is no reason whatsoever to drop him. As for Swann, he has to continue to play.

    The last pitch didn't suit him whatsoever - after all, Warne didn't take many wickets at that ground either, so its not as if Swann failed where one of the great's succeeded. Swann does need to try and reassert himself on the Aussie batsmen though. Hussey has got after him, but hopefully the next pitch will be more suited to spin, then Swann will have his chance to show everyone what he can do again. Remember, he has taken 5 wickets in an innings once this series so far.

  • Comment number 42.

    #40 Thank you for taking the time to explain this stuff. I am not a fan but I am currently looking for a new sport to get into having become bored of Snooker and F1.

    You have certainly helped me along with your explainations, but one thing I still don't understand is what is the off-stump? As in "You can open up a batsman's off stump"?

  • Comment number 43.

    Get Dale Steyn to play for England

  • Comment number 44.

    #40 no worries - the batsman stands in front of three stumps (long wooden stick you might call it) one which two bails (smaller pieces of wood) sit on. The off-stump is the "stick" furthest away from where the batsman is standing.

  • Comment number 45.

    Even Bradman needed a partner at the other end. Get the other 10 out and Hussey is out by default.

  • Comment number 46.

    Recall Dominic Cork.

  • Comment number 47.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 48.

    It sounds like when we were trying to get Graeme Smith out after his 2 double-tons in England. There was an article saying England had plans to everyone in their line-up but with a big fat '?' next to Smith's name. In the end we got him by attacking his seeming strengths, have Hoggy swing the ball into his pads. Smith was regularly murdering anything 2 or 3 stumps outside off through leg with a mostly straight bat so the idea of bowling back to his middle and leg pole must not have crossed too many minds.

    So it will be with Hussey. Jimmy will bowl at the top of his off-stump and he'll scratch one to Prior and that'll be that.

  • Comment number 49.

    Two freaks, a fat man & a county trumbler are not going to worry big nose. The only way they will get him out is to offer him money for a nose job

  • Comment number 50.

    I played half decent cricket (Bradford League and Yorkshire league for those that know - home ground Headingley).

    AT TEST level - What amazes me is the inaccuracy of the bowling in general - they show an analysis of where every ball has pitched and most are short and spread across the pitch.

    To get Hussey out the bowlers need to bowl to a "spot" on the wicket (no bigger than the size of "hankie"), which causes doubt in his mind about whether its going to hit the top of off stump - a bit of movement either way will cause further doubt - that uncertainty will eventually produce the occasional misjudgment and he will be out - not rocket science but requires accurate bowling - I recalll the Aussies used to have a bowler capable of doing just that (McGrath) and our lads should be able to do the same.

    Batting - whilst I am on. In the last test every English batsmen was out playing DEFENSIVELY at balls miles outside off stup - WHY? If you decide to play at a ball well outside off stump then either smash it or leave it alone! My mate "Paddy" Greatbatch scored a debut 100 (against England at headingley) playing the V - hitting balls back where they came and leaving the rest - not his natural style but he was determnined to succeed and did!

    England (Cook) was great at this in the previous test so why change just because of a bit more bounce and pace?.

    Lets hope we have a good Xmas??

  • Comment number 51.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 52.

    We're overdoing the worry about Mike Hussey. His series average to date stands at 100+ which is way way above his career level in test cricket. Unless he really has suddenly improved to Bradman-type levels (highly unlikely) what we're looking at here is a blip; he's been over performing in other words. Just one of those things. Without doing anything different or special we can expect his series average to settle back to the 75 mark or so; this means he won't score many in the last two test matches.

    The guy we should be more afraid of - for the same but opposite reasons - is the Australian captain. He's been seriously under performing and is pretty much bound to score big at Melbourne and/or Sydney. He's the danger man.

    So let's start thinking about how we can combat Ricky Ponting.

  • Comment number 53.

    One of the joys of cricket is that the batsman only has one chance to succeed. So, luck has a prominent role in ending a batsman's apparent run of form - witness Bradman's last Test innings! Hussey is good, but he is no Bradman and he is due for a failure. All England have to do to bring this about is to bowl line and length to him; make it so that if he misses, he is out - bowled or lbw. If they do this, he will not make more than 30 runs in Melbourne. BTW, what's all this junk from "Warnie" (how the diminutive suits him!) about Australia winning in Melbourne because they have "momentum" behind them. Will somebody please tell him that, if this theory was less than ridiculous, England would obviously have won in Perth! Or does "momentum" only work for Australia? Naive post hoc theorising I call it!

  • Comment number 54.

    I like the idea of putting Swann against him as soon as he gets in and see what happens, but I have a far simply way of negating Mike Hussey altogether!!

    IGNORE HIM!! Dont go after him! Give him singles to get him off strike and go for everyone else! We have proven we can get everyone else out so lets go for them!!

    Hussey cant get runs if he has no one to bat with!!

    But more importantly than that make sure our batsmen forget about the last test, consider it as something that was going to happen no matter what, and get them to focus on batting how they did in Adelaide and England will be fine Mike Hussey or not!!

  • Comment number 55.

    I think I shall rant!!

    Focusing on one player runs the risk of forgetting about the other players!!

    Watson batted well in the last test and is more than capable of doing similar damage as Hussey.

    Hughes even though has been got out cheaply by England is still a dangerous player capable of getting good scores!

    Ponting has over 12000 runs and has not made a good score yet! By the law of averages he is due one just as you could argue by the same law Hussey is due to be out cheaply! Mind you bowling at Pontings fingers a lot will probably be enough to cause him distress and get him out this test.

    Clarke as well has not made a good score and he is another dangerous player capable of doing England damage!

    Brad Haddin has batted well in this series also and is capable of supporting Hussey very well causing England problems!!

    It is far better to think of Australia as a side not individuals and focus on the best way to get them all out!

    In my view Australia seem to fall apart during a match if they are put under a lot of pressure. England need to go out and bat well, get a 500/600 score on the board then really attack Australia in the bowling and I think you will find that Australia capitulate again! Australian teams of old were very good at fighting back but I just dont think this team is, I think that if it isnt going well for them they struggle and cant get themselves back into the game.

    The key must be aggression from England in the bowling and batting! Oh yes and even though Ponting might be a nice fella, break his fingers with the ball!!!!!

  • Comment number 56.

    I saw Andrew Strauss bowl some beautiful left-arm chinaman grenades in the warm-up game the other week. He took a wicket. A left-handed batsman at that. No-brainer for me!

  • Comment number 57.

    Beam him. One good inswinging beamer will put him out for the rest of the series.

  • Comment number 58.

    When the quicker bowlers bowl at Hussey don't be too short - he is very strong off the back foot on both sides of the wicket. I would try to get him driving on the front foot around off stump. Also the quicks can try going around the wicket to Hussey a bit more. Sometimes it has been a bit monotonous. When Swann is bowling the same basic principle applies (front foot, off stump) - and I wouldn't mind seeing Swann give it a fraction more air occasionally for Hussey.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    This Ian Bell thing is getting slightly ridiculous. The guy may have done better than Colly but had hardly set the series alight and he has not always been batting with numbers ten and eleven. Sure he "looks in good touch" but those who put this forward as justification for promotion clearly are those fans who only follow cricket during the Ashes every couple of years. His entire career he has looked in touch only to get out.

    The problem with promoting him is disruption to the order and it would put more pressure on him. If he was number five and Colly number six and Colly scored more than him do we revert back again ad "Colly is in good touch"?

    Keep it as it is. Supposedly Swann can bat well so if he could try a bit harder rather than coming out giggling trying to hit everything for six it would help Colly and Bell a bit.

  • Comment number 61.

    No need to worry about Hussey - regression to the mean will take care of him as everything else statistical....but yes if he does continue to score, then at least slow him down --- bowl him what he can't hit for four -- the two or three balls that have been identified and nothing else. That means a slightly different bowling line up with another genuine seamer in and Collingwood out for this next match. We have to go in to win or draw - it's obvious we don't want to have to try to win the last match to win the Ashes. Be willing to sacrifice any batsman who can't or hasn't been scoring a fifty or more in each game so far -- one two hundred on an easy pitch doesn't count for much...We have other batsmen who may be more reliable - Repeat, it's about one game! Change two players, move the order up one for most - bring in another seamer. So we won't score so many? We didn't last time.

  • Comment number 62.

    I think from the last test the question the team should be asking themselves is how the Australians were able to swing the ball considerably more dangerously than we could.

    Any batsman will struggle against late swing,and to pick out Hussey as a target is stupidity one man doesnt make a team, we were collectively worse than australia in the last test and deserved to lose, get over it and everyone get their own game in order and we will be fine.We werent beaten by Hussey we beat ourselves.

  • Comment number 63.

    Swann and Bell are the key players in this test. Bell should bat at five and arguably three but definitely not six. Collingwood is hopelessly out of touch and will fail in both innings at MCG. The test will be a close run thing. The side batting last will be chasing just under 200. Either side could win. I favour not by choice the Aussies to snatch it and then draw the Sydney test so farewell Ashes. Damage was done by some very poor play at WACA where Aussies prepared to the hilt excelled.

  • Comment number 64.

    You were closest with the Collingwood comment, include Trott in that as well. Around the wicket with Prior sranding up, just ask Ravi Bopara, he's got him out a couple of times. Most of all, don't run Jimmy into the ground so that he's knackered by lunchtime. Don't forget to keep getting the others out as well and Watson. Maybe if Mr C comes in and someone other than Watson is there he won't know what's going on.

  • Comment number 65.

    Well, lads, it is a little over 25 hours before the umpire calls "Play".

    England must play this Test like men on a mission, like gladiators! It is the only way to secure victory, to emerge triumphantly, to retain the coveted urn!

    Pax vobiscum!

  • Comment number 66.

    Surely bowled, caught, run out or stumped are the obvious options? ;)

  • Comment number 67.

    Useless article. How to get him out???? Probe at him as you would any other batsman. Test him with every kind of delivery, but dont let Swann near him! Th amount of short balls he bowled to him was criminal. Juts bowl as you would and I bet you will get him out

  • Comment number 68.

    Getting out Mike Hussey is easy.

    Full and on off-stump, moving it either way. England have been far too impatient this series to "Mr.Cricket" and except for one completely brilliant and yet unlucky and unrewarded spell by Anderson at Brisbane, we haven't plugged away on a full length at Hussey all series. We've bowled to his strengths. Short and wide!

    In the 2009 Ashes we bowled full to him and the likes of Onions and Broad tore him apart. Just plug away full and on off-stump and he will nick one or leave one he shouldn't. He is not THAT good!

  • Comment number 69.

    63 Stig, sorry can you remind me of what amazing things Bell has done in this series to warrant being promoted to three above someone who has scored a high century and someone else who has got s double century?

    Tut yet another person who does not understand cricket and tunes in for Ashes only.

  • Comment number 70.

    stevieeng34 - I believe I know a lot more about the game than most having played to a semi-pro level. Bell is technically superior to all the other English batsman and is lost to the team as he has to nurse the tail. Last match he got out to a needless shot as he was obliged to retain the strike. Collingwood is more suited to that role. Technically he is inferior but he is a fighter and grafter and would improve at 6 or even 7 in the order.
    Merry Christmas all the same.

  • Comment number 71.

    Perhaps this time if Strauss wins the toss he will bat ?!

  • Comment number 72.

    #69 'what amazing things Bell has done in this series to warrant being promoted to three above someone who has scored a high century and someone else who has got a double century?'

    TBH, that's a pretty stupid comment. Cricketers are like the stock exchange - past performance is no guarantee of future results. Applying your logic you'd still open with Boycott. That said, Bell at 3 is equally stupid, especially with Trott doing so well.

    The point about Hussey is stop trying so hard to get him out. Bowl him good length, just outside driving width. Balls he should leave. Sooner or later, he won't and will take the risk....

  • Comment number 73.

    It is a little past mid-night in Melbourne and KP is dreaming---dreaming about repeating his Adelaide heroics, that is.

    Andrew Strauss is also dreaming--- "How can I get that bloody leftie out?"

    Mama told be to bowl him outside off stump," and the dream ends.

    Advice: You win toss, you bat first, --no brainer!


  • Comment number 74.

    Well, boys, it's almost game time! Wow! 100,000 spectators in the stands?...this will be exciting! Go England!

  • Comment number 75.

    Here's proof positive that the England players do read these blogs and heed salient advice herefrom.

    That advice has led to the early demise of their biggest nemesis, MH,caught behind for a paltry 8. Wow!

    Well done, Jimmy A.

  • Comment number 76.

    What a dichotomous opening day’s turn of events:

    First, it was the incredible Aussie capitulation; followed by an authoritative England response.

    I do not think many in the cricket world would have predicted this! The task for England now is to bat all day tomorrow and well into day three and allow two days plus to arrogate the next 10 Aussie wickets. Mike Hussey’s weakness may have been found out, at last!

    It would take an extraordinary sequence of events (or Mother Nature’s intervention) for the home side to save this match. England are cruising comfortably in the driver seat on the highway to glory.

    Well done, England.

    Another failure with the bat for Ricky Ponting---it is becoming a worrying situation for both he and his teammates. It appears England have worked out how to dismiss this batting champ. His epic lack of productivity will certainly put the selectors in a tough situation now that the Asia World Cup is only a few weeks away.

    But, in this glorious game of cricket, it ain’t over till the rotund diva takes the podium!

  • Comment number 77.

    Great day by England - terrible batting by Australia - and Hussey never looked more than we really knew he was- heading back to his poor form and would soon be out the team if there was a strong alternative -Aussie style! Great seam bowling in perfect bowling conditions. Our batsmen have no excuses tomorrow - they stand to be counted now. But fantastic performance so far!

  • Comment number 78.

    #48, that would be my prediction of a Hussey failure.

    ayyythankyeeeewwwwwwww

    Didn't expect the rest to follow so tamely.

    Momentum; not what it's cracked up to be, eh Warnie?

  • Comment number 79.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 80.

    75. At 02:30am on 26 Dec 2010, splendidsparrow wrote:
    "Here's proof positive that the England players do read these blogs and heed salient advice herefrom."

    Hang on a second...

    73. At 2:33pm on 25 Dec 2010, splendidsparrow wrote:
    "Advice: You win toss, you bat first, --no brainer"

    Good job the England players are selective about which advice they follow!

    A wonderful Christmas present. Went to bed at lunch, stirred at 3.30am and checked the score and couldn't believe my eyes. Up early because I'm so excited - far more excited that yesterday morning!

  • Comment number 81.

    A fantastic day's cricket...some positive bowling in the first dig and some great work by Cookie and Strauss to see it through.
    One criticism...and not of the players.
    I am tepid towards his commentary at the best of times, and do not see him as a natural commentator in the slightest, but someone needs to have a word with a certain Geoffrey Boycott. I mentioned this on another blog, but for him to say, in the FOURTH OVER of a Test match "I can't see how England can win from here" was prepostorous at the time. Looking back on it now, it was just totally stupid and short sighted. Now, I know we are a long way form winning this match, but this is certianly a position from which to do so. Boycs does sometimes come out with some cracking stories and will always speak his mind - something dearly lacking in sport commentary today, but can someone tell him to either wise up a bit and think before he speaks, or just keep quiet.
    Rant over.....bring on 1.30 AM (I'm abroad!)

  • Comment number 82.

    Matt -h88...

    The advice they heeded was not what you have in mind, pal; it is about where to pitch to Hussey. Do not let him leave it alone, make him play the ball as much as possible. That is, maintain a steady line on off stump, or just outside, to induce errors.

    In fact, that line appears to have found out the entire Aussie squad.

    And batting second was a gamble that paid off. What would you have said if the Aussies were 300 for one going in to day two? I suppose you might have had a few choice words for Andy, won't you?

    In hind sight, opting to bowl first seems like a stroke of genius, when it works.

    Great work, England!

 

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