Michael Hussey won the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 and ICC Champions Trophy 2006 and 2009 with Australia. Between 2004 and 2013, he represented his country in 79 Tests in which he scored 6235 runs, 185 ODIs in which he scored 5442 runs and 38 T20Is in which he scored 721 runs.
There is less than a month before the ICC Champions Trophy begins and the excitement surrounding the tournament is really beginning to build.
From a player’s point of view, this tournament is really motivating because you want to measure yourself against the best players in the world and gain the respect of your peers. There are some great rivalries, such as India v Pakistan and Australia v England which create so much interest with the hype surrounding those games suffocating, but in the end what every team wants is to win the trophy for their country.
The Australia squad looks strong and if it can play at its best, should get through to the semi-final stage, at least. As many as nine players of the 15-man squad are honing their skills in India at the IPL, while the remainder will prepare in Brisbane at the National Performance Centre before the squad comes together in the UK for a few important practice games before the tournament begins.
The only concerns in the Australian camp are the fitness of Mitchell Starc and Chris Lynn. Starc is recovering well from a foot injury sustained in the Test series against India but may be a little underdone and will use the warm-up matches to get into top form for Australia’s first pool game against New Zealand on 2 June.
Chris Lynn dislocated his shoulder at the IPL and is racing the clock to be fit for the start of the tournament. With his amazing performances in the Big Bash and other leagues around the world, Lynn has become, arguably, Australia’s best T20 batsman with nerves of steel and phenomenal power. On the back of his T20 performances, he was selected in Australia’s ODI team and will be desperate to regain full fitness and grab his opportunity in the 50-over format.
I have had a good look at the squad and there are a few notable omissions, with Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh and James Faulkner, all quality players, missing from it.
Who can forget the batting of Faulkner against England at the Gabba in 2014 when he combined with number-11 batsman Clint McKay to put on 66 from just 33 balls. That knock included five sixes and three consecutive boundaries off Tim Bresnan’s last over to record a famous victory for Australia.
I was concerned that the Australian selectors had not picked a back-up wicket-keeper in case there was an injury on the eve of a match to Matthew Wade, but Peter Handscomb is playing for Yorkshire and could be drafted into the team in an emergency.
The Australia v England game on 7 June at Edgbaston is the one I am really looking forward to as there is so much history between the two teams. People in the Australian public often say to me, “We don’t care if you lose every game, but just make sure we beat the Poms!”
As a player, you feel as though you have a responsibility to your country to put in your best performance against the old foe.
One of the fondest memories of my career was when Australia defeated England at Centurion in South Africa in the semi-final of the ICC Champions Trophy in 2009. Shane Watson and Ricky Ponting scored breathtaking centuries, taking us to the final, where we accounted for New Zealand to win the trophy.
The intensity always goes up a notch when we play England and I had some great battles with the likes of Andrew Flintoff, Steve Harmison, James Anderson and Graeme Swann over the years. Players from both teams slugged it out on the field with some high-quality cricket and some low quality ‘chat’ (mainly from Swann…haha), but then enjoyed each other’s company after the match or at the end of a series.
England have a strong squad for this year’s tournament and will no doubt be one of the favourites for the title in their home conditions. I can’t wait for the battles between the likes of David Warner, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins going up against Joe Root, Ben Stokes, Jos Buttler, Jason Roy and Adil Rashid.
When you put world-class talent, who are highly motivated to win for their country and desperate to win the ICC Champions Trophy, all on a cricket field together, you create a perfect storm for inspirational performances that will be remembered forever in the history of our great game.
I honestly can’t wait for the action to begin!
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