Michael Hussey is urging the Australian selectors to find a traditional opener to replace David Warner – LSB

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Former Australian batsman Michael Hussey has warned Australian selectors against selecting a caretaker opener as a replacement for David Warner, saying he would rather the specialist opener who has dominated Sheffield Shield cricket be rewarded. But Hussey stopped short of naming a candidate.

Hussey was speaking ahead of the Boxing Day Test at the MCG after being inducted into the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame alongside former Australia women’s captain Lene Larsen.

Hussey began his Test career as an opener and made a century as an opener in the batting in his second Test match in 2005 as a replacement for the injured Justin Langer, having made his name as an opener in first-class cricket plundering 15,313 first-class runs mostly for Western Australia and Northamptonshire before The test must begin for the first time at the age of thirty.

The left-hander had only opened for one innings in Test cricket after his first two Tests as the order was shuffled when Langer returned and played the rest of his 79 Tests as a middle-order batsman, scoring 6,235 runs at 51.52 in all with 18 of his 19 Test centuries coming From number 4 to 6.

But despite being one of Australia’s most adaptable players in the three-format era, Hussey was adamant that Australia’s selectors should opt for a specialist opener for the first Test against the West Indies in January after Warner retired at the end of the Pakistan series.

“Opening is one of the hardest jobs in the game,” Hussey said. “So for me personally, if I were to choose, I would choose a proper, traditional opener. Someone who has done it for a long period of time. Because if you haven’t done it a lot in your top-tier career, it’s going to be very difficult to pull it off.

“I’m not saying you can’t do it, and maybe someone can develop into that role. But I think it would be difficult for a player like Mitch Marsh or someone else – I know there’s been talk about him moving up the pecking order – I think maybe He would be better suited, like Travis Head, to be in the middle order.

“I think this will be best for the balance of the Australian team.”

The debate over who should replace Warner continues in the background as the Australian national team remains incredibly stable. Marcus Harris, Cameron Bancroft and Matt Renshaw are the three main specialist candidates for the role. However, Australia coach and selector Andrew McDonald raised some eyebrows ahead of the Pakistan series when he raised the possibility of selecting Marsh and Cameron Green in the same XI and shuffling the order to have Marnus Labuschagne move to open.

Usman Khawaja has said he would prefer a specialist opener to join him at the top and believes Labuschagne would not be comfortable filling that role. Both Head and Marsh have said publicly that they would prefer not to open the batting.

Harris did no damage to his case for the role with a century for the Victoria XI against Pakistan in the two-day tour match during the week, although he continued to dominate at the batting-friendly Junction Oval while being less prolific in the main Test venues in Australia in Shield cricket. Renshaw has scored as many runs for Australia A and a premier’s XI in recent years, including a century against Pakistan as he took third place in Canberra earlier this month, while Bancroft has been a dominant opener in Shield cricket scoring 10 centuries since the start for 2021, twice as many as Harris and six more than Renshaw in that time.

Hussey stopped short of naming his preferred candidate but said the shape of the shield should be rewarded.

“I like who is dominating at the level below, who has been dominating Sheffield Shield cricket over a period of time and, to be fair, they’ve all done that at different stages,” Hussey said.

“So it’s a tough job for the selectors. I don’t want to stand here and say it should be this guy or that guy.

“I hope they reward a guy who has been doing very well in Sheffield Shield cricket. I think that sends a great message to the competition. And it’s great for our tracks that we will reward players who are performing well.”

Hussey spent two days working with the Australian team in the lead-up to the Perth Test as a coaching consultant while assistant coach Andrej Borovic rested at his home in Geelong after taking over as interim coach for the five-match T20 series in India after the World Championship. cup.

“I really enjoyed it,” Hussey said. “Just watching how they prepare and slowly starting some small conversations to get to know them and their games a little bit more.

“It was fun. I really enjoyed it. My shoulder is still healing.”

Hussey has a strong relationship with MacDonald having played Test cricket and BBL cricket with him for the Sydney Thunder. Hussey worked for England in the T20 World Cup in Australia last year under Matthew Mott when England won the title but is keen to work with Australia again in the future after his short stint in Perth.

“It just depends on how the schedule is arranged at this point, but I have a good relationship with Andrew MacDonald,” Hussey said. “We played each other at Thunder and our paths crossed a few times. So I have a good relationship there. I have a good relationship with some of the players as well. So, if I can [do more] I’d like to.”

Alex Malcolm is an associate editor at ESPNcricinfo

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