Hussey, Ponting hang up boots, leave an oversized pair to fill
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With Michael Hussey announcing his intention to quit international cricket just weeks after ex-captain Ricky Ponting retired, Australia's attention has turned quickly to who will fill the two big voids in the batting order for 2013 series in India and England.
The 37-year-old Hussey, seemingly at the peak of his powers, made the surprise announcement on the weekend as Australia prepared for the third Test in a series they have already secured against Sri Lanka by winning the first two matches.
The traditional New Year's Test at Sydney starting January 3 will be Hussey's 79th and last, following Ponting, Australia's all-time leading run-scorer, into retirement.
Phil Hughes, a 24-year-old top-order batsman who has been in and out of the national lineup since scoring hundreds in both innings of his second Test against South Africa in 2009, has been earmarked to continue batting at No. 3 after replacing Ponting for the Sri Lanka series, with Pakistan-born Usman Khawaja likely to move into the Test squad as a contender to bat at No. 5 or No. 6 after being on standby for skipper Michael Clarke in recent Tests.
Hussey nominated his brother, 35-year-old David Hussey, among the contenders to bat for Australia in India and in the Ashes.
"I'm not worried about the team whatsoever," Hussey said Sunday. "We've got some fantastic candidates to come in — probably too many to name. Maybe David Hussey could get a run — one Hussey out, one Hussey in.
"History has shown players have come and gone. But the game continues to move forward, and it'll be no different with me."
Michael Hussey didn't make his Test debut until he was 30 but has been a valuable contributor to the team, accumulating enough runs to be 12th on Australia's all-time list of run-scorers. His supreme fitness has helped him forge a strong middle-order combination with Clarke across the last year, the pair frequently combining after failures from the top order.