Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Australia hopeful Hussey can make World Cup

Australia hopeful Hussey can make World Cup
Australia are hoping that the World Cup schedule will give Michael Hussey enough time to recover from the serious hamstring injury that has ruled him out of the remaining one-day matches against England and put him in major doubt for the global tournament. Hussey underwent surgery on Tuesday after tearing the muscle off a bone during the first one-dayer at the MCG and faces a lengthy rehabilitation program.

Adding to the problem of risking Hussey at the World Cup is that the captain Ricky Ponting is still recovering from the broken finger he sustained during the Perth Test and which subsequently required an operation. Although Ponting is much less of a concern for the tournament proper, there remains the chance that Australia could travel with two unfit frontline batsmen in their squad.

"What gives us the leeway is the gap between games," Michael Clarke, Australia's stand-in captain, said. "We've got two practice games and then I think our first actual game is February 21. I think there's a bit of a gap there as well. There's a bit of time which is on our side. I'm hearing good reports that they're confident if all goes well they can get him [Hussey] fit to take part in the World Cup. It's just a matter of when he'll be fit and if selectors are willing to take that risk to take him not being 100%.

"I guess the concern is we're trying to get the skipper as fit as possible so hopefully he can take part in those two practice games. The selectors have to weigh up if we can we take Hussey as well, knowing he mightn't be fit for those first couple of games. We'll know more in time. I think the main thing right now is that Huss does everything in his power to make it heal. We just sit, watch closely and keep our fingers crossed in the hope that he pulls up well."

The odd nature of the injury has made it difficult for Cricket Australia to accurately predict when Hussey might return and they won't have a clearer picture for a number of weeks, which pushes them even closer to the World Cup. "As this is an unusual injury in cricket we will be closely monitoring his progress and making appropriate progressions," Alex Kountouris, the CA physiotherapist, said. "As yet we have not determined a fixed time for his return to cricket training and playing. This will become clearer in the next two or three weeks."

However, a leading sports doctor has said Hussey faces a long period on the sidelines and that the World Cup will be out of reach. "Our experience with that particular injury, it's a three-month plus [recovery time] in most sports," Peter Larkins told the Sydney Morning Herald. "The fact he had surgery ensures he won't be going to the World Cup.''

Shaun Marsh, the Western Australia batsman, has been drafted into the squad for the next three matches against England and would be the player to step up if Hussey was ruled out of the World Cup squad but Clarke knows they are massive shoes to fill.

"He's been a huge player, not only this summer in the Test format but over a long period of time in one-day cricket," he said. "I think in the subcontinent conditions are going to be quite tough for the middle-order players and I think his experience and knowledge in those conditions would be really helpful."

Ponting, meanwhile, is around the squad in Hobart and will spend other periods with them during the remainder of this series. It isn't impossible that he could squeeze in a match before the summer is finished.

"I think it's more day-by-day, keep seeing Alex, keep seeing how it's healing then they make a plan as soon as they can," Clarke said. "I'm confident Ricky will be right to play the World Cup, it's just about how much batting he gets under his belt leading up to that first game. The sooner the better I think for our team."

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