Kerry Packer, the Australian media tycoon who revolutionised cricket in the late 1970s, had batted for Mike Hussey’s selection into the Australian team for the final Test of the 2005 Ashes series.
Packer wanted Hussey to be picked up for the Oval Test, in place of the struggling Damien Martyn. This revelation emerged in a new book, Bradman & Packer: The Deal That Changed Cricket, slated to be released this week.
In the book, former Cricket Australia chairman Bob Merriman disclosed that he got a phone call from Packer before the Oval Test and he said: “Get that f****ng Hussey in the side, quick,” before adding, “They (selectors) can’t pick a bloody club team, Martyn hasn’t made a run!”
Merriman then called up Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland and said: “Please remind (chief selector) Trevor Hohns that he can pick any Australian, he doesn’t have to pick from the 17.”
Sutherland tried to find out about the availability of Hussey, and called Merriman back and told him: “Bob, Mike Hussey’s on a plane now, we can’t get him in.”
Apparently, Hussey was flying out of the UK to join the Australia A team as a reserve wicketkeeper on the tour of Pakistan.
When made to aware of this news, Hussey seemed flabbergasted.
"I didn't know that story, so that blows me away really," he told ESPNcricinfo. "I do remember thinking at the time, there was a bit of speculation in the press, and I remember thinking to myself 'oh gosh'. It was obviously one of the greatest series of all time, it had come right down to the wire for the last Test match, I didn't want to be seen as the big saviour to try to help Australia win the series so I was actually quite petrified to be picked to be honest."
The southpaw also admitted that he was relieved not to be picked up for the high-profile Ashes series.
"In a small way I was a little bit relieved...I thought they were thinking about leaving Matthew Hayden out and I was going to open the batting," he said. "He's someone I looked up to throughout my whole career and rated very highly, as a great of Australian cricket.
"I don't rate greats easily, so I didn't feel comfortable about replacing someone like Matthew Hayden that I admired so much and rated so highly. When it all didn't happen, I was probably a little bit relieved, as much as you do want to play for Australia, that would've been a tricky start.
"It was just such a massive series, there was so much hype and so much pressure, it would've been a pretty daunting start to my Test career ... I had a more low-key start against the West Indies, and I didn't handle my emotions well at all in that Test match [in Brisbane], so I don't know how I would've handled my emotions playing against England in the final Test of that 2005 Ashes series."