The formula for writing a tribute to a retiring great is fairly standard.
Dig up a few memories, toss in some noteworthy stats and a summary of successes, follow this with a charming knockabout yarn or two and make sure you keep any career controversy to a minimum. Then, you’ve got yourself a read.
A departing demigod like Mike Hussey deserves a bloody good one of these, of which thousands will be written. Based on career evidence, they will almost all read of cricketing near-perfection.
Mr Cricket’s modus operandi is a blend of a selfless team-first mantra, an almost paranoid drive for success and an undying commitment to the spirit of the gentleman’s game. He is the benchmark as the ultimate competitor.
We are all aware of his crazy numbers, his early sky-high average that had us questioning our Casio, the speccy grabs in the gully that had us rubbing our eyes and the matches saved that had us thanking our respective creators.
So I’m going to leave all of that practical stuff for others to write by keeping this composition entirely personal.
This will be all about what ‘The Huss’ meant to me, a tragically devoted follower who was kept in a constant state of awe while he watched the length of a magnificent career that transcended the game.
I’m penning these thoughts on a piece of paper stained by my tears of disbelief, so please excuse me if my words seem emotionally waterlogged.
First and foremost, the Huss is a one-in-a-million freak cricketer who constantly skins his elbows for Australia and who will depart the arena on a dreamy high of personal form. That alone gets him a lifetime invite to all of my barbecues.
However, it’s his qualities as a human being that sets the man apart.
Huss has always been there to teach me the basics. To flog the one-percenters of life with a purposeful back lift, to get on the front foot and concentrate like a man possessed, even as the shadows lengthened and the sweat stung your eyes.
And do it for hours, sessions, and days if required.
He has always taught me to grit the teeth and dig in, and to bust your guts whether when at practice or playing for keeps.
On a dustbowl or concrete, treat every ball like a potentially wicked cluster bomb, as if it could be your last, especially when batting with Phil Hughes.
Huss has coached me in the art of voracious hunger, to snaffle life’s aerial cut shots like a ruthless mousetrap stationed at gully, and to celebrate like your life was dependent on getting a critical wicket before stumps, all the while wearing a feature wall’s worth of zinc.
He has inspired me to carry myself like the spirit of the game desires by setting a spotless example.
A tidily adorned humble gentleman with single-minded intentions to grind his opponent out of the game with a sweat-soaked and chanceless hundred. And all done with impeccably polite manners.
Finally, Huss has taught me that military medium pies with a hint of gentle outswing will forever be rad, and not to mention a genuine option when trying to break a partnership.
I just assumed that Mr Cricket would play forever. It’s hard to fathom that his day of departure has come around and that in a matter of weeks he will be gone, visible only to those in his hometown as he inhumanely buries grade cricket bowling attacks into the Perth soil.
Watching him sign off from Test cricket in Sydney will be special, but watching the start of the following series in India without him will be just plain weird.
Thanks for the hard yards, Mike Hussey.
Now let’s start a push for his comeback.