Hussey anticipates fierce Ashes battle

Updated: 29 May 2009 11:13 IST

Mike Hussey believes Australia will have to survive a ferocious challenge from England to retain the Ashes.

Hussey anticipates fierce Ashes battle

Birmingham:

Mike Hussey believes Australia will have to survive a ferocious challenge from England to retain the Ashes.

Ricky Ponting's side romped to a 5-0 series victory on home turf when the old rivals last met in 2007.

But Hussey, 31, expects a much sterner examination from Andrew Strauss's men when the latest Ashes series gets underway in England in early July.

The Australians have arrived in England to prepare for the Twenty20 World Cup, which takes place next month, but it is the Ashes which are already occupying Hussey's thoughts.

The former Durham batsman has been especially impressed with the way England have added depth to their squad despite the continued absence of Andrew Flintoff.

"Will it be closer than 5-0 this time? I hope not but I think it will be a very close series and very challenging for both teams," Hussey said.

"England have added a lot of depth to their squad over the last couple of years and they have got guys playing confident cricket and that is a big plus for them.

"There have been a lot of new players coming into the England set-up who have been doing quite well and showing they are good enough to play at international level. That bodes well for England.

"We have been very impressed. We know they have got a good team, particularly in English conditions. A lot of their guys have improved so I think we are in for a huge challenge."

Hussey remains confident Australia will emerge with the Ashes still in their hands however, especially now precocious opener Phil Hughes has gained experience of English conditions with an impressive spell at Middlesex.

"We have got an excellent squad as well, one with a lot of confidence out of winning the Test series in South Africa," Hussey said.

"We have a mixture of young fresh faces like Phil Hughes, who is so exciting, with a lot of talent, and has done well in his initial time at this level.

"We have some good experienced players as well. Hopefully that blend will help us but I think what really matters isn't whether you are young or old but doing the business out in the middle is all that counts.

"We will get into the nets and try to acclimatise to the conditions as quickly as you can.

"At the end of the day, you can play all the games you want but, when you are in the heat of the battle of the first Ashes Test, I don't think anything can really prepare you for that."

Hussey insists Australia will be fully focused on trying to win the Twenty20 World Cup before the Test series.

"We are really looking forward to the Twenty20 World Cup and I think we have got a good chance. We haven't thought too much about the Ashes yet because we want to worry about the Twenty20," he said.

"I'd be lying if I said the Ashes weren't at the back of our minds but we've got a different squad really for the Twenty20 so we are 100% focused on that at the moment.

"The Twenty20 World Cup is the trophy we haven't got. Whenever there is a World Cup on the line, we are always up to win it.

"There are some very dangerous teams out there, some good Twenty20 players. The thing about the format is anything can happen on any given day and one player can take the game away."



Topics : Cricket Michael Hussey
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