With another Australian cricket summer fast approaching (with series against South Africa, Sri Lanka and the West Indies) it comes as no surprise that there will be questions over the squads picked. With the first test against the Proteas at the Gabba on November 9th, the selectors will need to think long and hard as to whom makes the cut.
Ricky Ponting will turn 38 during the test series against Sri Lanka, while Michael Hussey turned 37 back in May of this year. While their recent form has been outstanding, there were a lot of concerns over Ponting’s form over the 2011-2012 season. However, Ponting’s incredible 288 run partnership with Michael Clarke in the 2011-2012 new year test (Ponting sored 134, while Clarke went on to 329*), was a career saving moment, after a string of low scores. Mike Hussey also scored 150, and turned a lot of critics heads. Ponting also scored 221 in the Adelaide 2011-2012 test, and began to re-earn the respect of a lot of fans. Another string of low scores threatened to again have him dropped, but a score of 57 in the final test against the West Indies in April kept his hopes alive.
Hussey was also near the brink of being axed, but scores of 89 and 150 in the first two tests against showed that ‘Mr Cricket’ was still extremely capable of playing the sport.
While this run-in of form was the certain saver for both careers, Hussey and Ponting’s age now comes under heavy scrutiny. Both batsmen will eventually wear out and have to retire, but when that will be is too hard to be determined.
Ponting had previously stated that he wanted to continue playing. On Feb 21st, 2012, speaking at a Cricket Australia press conference (prior to the West Indies tour), Ponting expressed that while he was unlikely to be involved in the one-day setup, he still wanted to remain part of the test setup.
“I will continue playing Test cricket and I’ll continue playing for Tasmania as well. I think I’ve proved to myself and to everybody else that I’m still capable of dominating Test cricket as I did in the last series against India.”
It comes during a period of time where Australia is blooding the likes of Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and David Warner. Ponting and Hussey, with years of experience under their belts, are also providing key assistance as mentors to the younger players.
Hussey’s ability to be the “rock” of the team, and provide stability in shaky situations, was teetering, but his 150 certainly showcased he hadn’t gone away just yet. And his excellent fielding (which includes some amazing diving catches) is testament to his unwillingness to back away or give up.
The time when Hussey and Ponting will retire is looming. When that will be exactly we don’t know. Ponting has given us a sign, having retired from Twenty20 and potentially one-day cricket. Hussey continues to amaze, and will hopefully for a little while yet.
Brad Hogg is 41, and got a call up to Australia’s Twenty20 squad to play Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates. Goes to show that you don’t have to be young to play sport.