Chennai Super Kings' decision to not retain Michael Hussey despite a brilliant last season surprised many but Mumbai Indians did not seem to mind at all, lapping up the former Australian left-hander in the IPL players' auction in February this year. Hussey's 733 runs from 17 matches in 2013 earned him the Orange Cap but CSK chose to overlook a man who consistently performed for the team since inception of IPL. The reason for the 'axe', of course, may not be entirely, cricketing.
Did Hussey pay the price for 'revealing' the real identity of Gurunath Meiyappan? The son-in-law of suspended Board of Control for Cricket in India boss N. Srinivasan is now facing charges of corruption in the IPL 2013. Hussey ruffled a few feathers when in his biography, Under the Southern Star, he revealed that Meiyappan ran the Chennai franchise.
Hussey's autobiography claimed that Srinivasan had given control of the team to his son-in-law. "Our owner was Indian Cements, headed by Mr Srinivasan. As he was also on the board of the BCCI, he gave control of the team to his son-in-law Mr Gurunath. He ran the team along with Kepler Wessels, who was coach," the book said.
After Meiyappan was booked for betting last year, Srinivasan refused to call his daughter's husband's a Chennai team official. Srinivasan called Meiyappan merely an "enthusiast." A Supreme Court-appointed inquiry committee has already indicted Meiyappan and confirmed that he was more than an "enthusiast."
In spite of a tacit U-turn and some damage control, Hussey was already in the bad books of the CSK bosses. Even if skipper MS Dhoni wanted Hussey to be retained, he could not have angered the team owners. Dhoni himself is under the scanner for alleged links with bookies.
Therefore, Hussey was persona non grata in the CSK camp.
Chennai's apparent loss was Mumbai's gain. Mumbai Indians are the defending IPL champions and in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar and Ricky
Ponting, Hussey will be expected to be the senior statesman in the side and play an active leadership role with the likes of Rohit Sharma and Harbhajan Singh.
Hussey, who is now 38, admitted the move from Chennai to Mumbai would be a challenge but insisted he was always a Mumbai Indians admirer.
"Of course it will be a challenge (to adapt to MI after playing for CSK for six years), but one I am very much looking forward to. I have really admired and respected the Mumbai Indians whilst I was at CSK and I am hoping to make a positive contribution both on and off the field," Hussey told the Indian Express.
Having helped Chennai win and defend the IPL a couple of times, Hussey is no stranger to the pressures of the cash-rich T20 league. He believes his knowledge will help Mumbai defend their title this year.
"I think it is difficult just to win the IPL as all the teams are good but having the experience of being on the big stage before and knowing how to win the tournament and having performed in pressure situations will hold the team in good stead.
"There are also the five retained players who were there last season to pass on their experience," Hussey said.
Mumbai Indians start their title defence on April 16, when they take on Kolkata Knight Riders in the opening game of the seventh edition in Abu Dhabi.