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A great idea to arrive early: Michael Hussey

Y.B. Sarangi

Lays stress on the Greg Chappell factor

— PHOTO: AFP

TEAM MAN: Michael Hussey (centre) was in the thick of the action as the Australian team goes through its drills at the RCA on Wednesday.

JAIPUR: The Australians have come prepared. The plans are in place and the focus is clearly on adapting to the challenges, on and off the field, as the team goes through drills at the Rajasthan Cricket Academy here.

The team arrived a week in advance to get acclimatised to the weather and the playing conditions. With the help of their new advisor, Greg Chappell, a former India coach and the consultant at the Rajasthan Cricket Academy’s Centre of Excellence, the Australians are looking ahead to some exciting times.

Michael Hussey spoke to the media on Wednesday, making it a point to talk about the Chappell factor. On Tuesday, Brett Lee also had emphasised the advantage of having Chappell on their side.

“It’s a great idea to come early and try to adapt. Greg has organised practice on different pitches (at the RCA) so that the bowlers and batsmen can come to terms with the surfaces.

Well-prepared

“I am sure we are very well-prepared coming into the first Test. It’s nice to have Greg involved, especially on two counts, his vast knowledge and experience. All of us are keen to tap it and use his intimate knowledge of the Indian conditions,” Hussey said.

Talking on the lack of experience of the Australian spinners, Hussey said: “Some of the guys are great friends with Shane (Warne) and tap his knowledge.” The Australians have two rookie slow bowlers in their side — the 36-year-old leg-spinner Bryce McGain with an experience of only 19 first-class matches and the 25-year-old off-spinner Jason Krejza, who has played a mere 23 first-class matches.

“We have a very, very strong first-class system and anyone who comes in is going to have to have put up some good performances. I think they’re very seasoned cricketers,” he said. “It’s dangerous to focus just on the (Indian) spinners. India has some very good quick bowlers too. We are looking at the entire package.”

Stay positive

Hussey said the key to good batting would be to stay positive in the difficult circumstances and rotate strike. “Everyone plays differently — Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting and myself...we all play differently. We have all our own plans and we will stick to them. It’s a great challenge and we are very clear how to go about it.”

Hussey rated the tour of India as one of the toughest considering the unfamiliar conditions and a few other factors.

“I think it’s one of the toughest places to play. The conditions, pitches and off-field distractions make a Test series in India very tough.”

However, the camaraderie in the side would stand the new-look Australian team in good stead.

“In 2004, there were so many great players in the side. But the guys are excited. There is exuberance and enthusiasm and we have to do hard work. We are a new team and we are trying to make our own history.”

On whether playing Twenty20 cricket would have its effect on the players, Hussey said: “Twenty20 is great for the kids and families. Twenty20 has helped improve skills of the players. But there should be a smooth transition from Twenty20 to ODIs to Test cricket.”

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