How to dismiss Mike Hussey
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 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?
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."
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.