Dubai: The Hussey brothers of Australia have a long standing relationship with the Indian Premier League (IPL). While Michael Hussey, the ‘Mr Cricket’ had contributed hugely behind Chennai Super Kings’ consistency in the intial years before taking up the position of a batting mentor, David had been more of a journeyman in the richest T20 league in the world.
A quintessential limited overs specialist, the younger of the Hussey brothers had played for CSK, Kings XI Punjab and Kolkata Knight Riders, followed by stints as a commentator. This season, however, will see David Hussey in a signficant role of the Chief Mentor of two-time champions Kolkata Knight Riders who are looking to turn the corner after narrowly failing to make the play-offs last year.
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Hussey struck the first positive note about the new signings this season when he lavised praise on Tom Banton, the in-form England opener, when he compared him to the classy Kevin Pietersen - a presumptious observation but sure to do wonders for the youngster’s morale. ‘‘He is new version or better version of Kevin Pietersen,” he said during a media interaction organised by the team on Sunday.
Banton, 21, is a wicketkeeper batsman who first caught the eye while playing for Brisbane Heat in Australia’s Big Bash League last season, Banton had a strike rate of 176.98 - not much inferior to Andre Russell’s striker rate last year was 182.12 - on way to three half-centuries in seven games. In the T20 series against Pakistan last month, Banton scored 71 (42b; 4x4; 6x5) and 46 (31b; 4x8) as an opener.
‘‘The overseas players haven’t arrived yet but we are excited to see Tom Banton play live, he was phenomenal in the Big Bash. But I think it is going to be the wily veterans in Dinesh Karthik, Kuldeep Yadav, Sunil Narine and Andre Russell who are going to be ultra-critical. They control the culture of the group and I think they are going to go a long way in helping the other boys, the newcomers, the youngsters,” Hussey said.
During the auction last December, the Knights made an interesting choice in roping in Eoin Morgan, the ICC World Cup-winning England captain and a matchwinner in the T20 format. While there are no doubts about Karthik being the captain, Morgan’s presence will certainly create the environment for a collective leadership in the team. “A classy player, he (Morgan) will be a great ally to Karthik, maybe fielding in the ring talking to bowlers. He is also a very cool, calm collected person who will be handy controlling things in the middle. We do expect them to have a good relationship so I think he (Morgan) will go a long way in winning many games for Kolkata Knight Riders during a very tight tournament,” said Hussey.
Russell, Karthik and Morgan will be the anchors in the batting line-up, he said. “If Dre Russ comes at 3 and bats 60 balls, he might actually make a double hundred. He is a fantastic player, probably also the heartbeat of the team as well.”
The trio in charge of KKR’s fortunes - coach Brendon McCullum, Hussey and bowling coach Kyle Mills have an interesting bonding about them. While ‘Baz’ (McCullum) and Mills are from New Zealand and played a lot of cricket together, Hussey and McCullum were part of the KKR outfit from 2008-2010. “We hit it off straight away. We didn’t know each other very well at that stage but we get on really well now. We have disagreements in how we should play but it is always in good fun, no emotion. It will be fun working with a guy who has a similar take on the game to myself.
‘‘If anyone knows McCullum; he plays the game at a 100 miles an hour and he encourages the players to take the game on,” he said.
Hussey brothers in IPL
Michael Hussey represented CSK for several years and Mumbai Indians for one year, with an astonishing average of 38.76 from 59 matches in IPL. In 2013, he finished as the tournament’s leading runscorer with 733 runs and claimed the Orange Cap. He is serving his term as the batting coach of CSK since 2018.
David Hussey has played for CSK, KXIP and KKR in IPL, with a decent average of 26.97 from 64 matches and has also picked up eight wickets.