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Tuesday, 25 September, 2001, 07:52 GMT 08:52 UK
Hussey's prolific summer
BBC Sport Online's Steve Beauchampé talks to Mike Hussey, the leading overseas batsman in county cricket.
With over 2,000 runs in the Championship behind him, Mike Hussey's first season in England has been a resounding success.
Replacing Matthew Hayden as Northants' overseas player, 26-year-old Hussey broke team mate Mal Loye's county scoring record with an unbeaten 329 against Essex.
"It's been a great learning experience and a lot of fun", Hussey told BBC Sport Online.
"We've got a good batting pitch at Wantage Road and a fast outfield, so you get full value for your shots.
"That triple century gave me the confidence and belief that I could bat for long periods and make big scores.
"In the second innings we peeled off 95 runs in ten overs to secure our first win of the campaign, so it was probably the highlight of my season."
Northants have struggled in both four-day and one-day cricket, but Hussey has been pleasantly surprised by the overall standard of county cricket.
"I'd heard a lot of negativity before I arrived, that the players weren't motivated, the teams weren't strong, but I think the standard is bloody good.
"At Northants we prepare just as thoroughly as an Australian team would, we've played some excellent sides and it's certainly been competitive," he said.
So which players have impressed him?
"Hard to say because conditions vary match by match, but of the bowlers I'd say Martin Bicknell at Surrey and the Yorkshire pace trio of Matthew Hoggard, Ryan Sidebottom and Chris Silverwood were a great challenge.
"I also liked the look of Lancashire's Peter Martin and Glen Chapple.
"Among the batsmen, David Fulton played well against us twice, Michael Vaughan was the only one to master a Headingley pitch that was seaming around and made a brilliant hundred against us
"Our own Russell Warren and Mal Loye have scored heavily; Mal being particularly adept at dominating the spinners before injury ended his season early."
English cricket's shortcomings haven't escaped Hussey either.
"Maybe you play one competition too many, though I appreciate that cutting back is difficult because counties need the money.
"But players can get into a comfort zone and find it hard to remain motivated when they've another game in day or two, whereas in Australia there can be a week or more between matches.
Although impressed by a batsman's paradise of a pitch at Northampton, Hussey is less enamoured with some of the other tracks that he's seen.
"To produce good cricket, pitches need to be hard and fast but that's not always the case in England and a soft and slow pitch can help make average bowlers look better than they really are."
Despite these downsides, Hussey feels that his all-round game has benefited from his first season in England.
"I didn't set myself specific run targets, but I did want the responsibility of being the overseas player, which brought with it expectations that I'd be the leading scorer.
"Being in England means playing under new conditions and facing different types of bowling, which allows me to work on particular shots.
"The Northants pitch breaks up and takes spin, which has enabled me to improve that aspect of my game. It's also great being in England during an Ashes series, and scoring so many runs at that time never hurts.
"After I got my triple century Steve Waugh phoned to congratulate me, which was a nice touch."
For both Mike Hussey and Northamptonshire, it's proved a highly satisfactory engagement.
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