SYDNEY Michael Hussey was a relieved man after his test career came to a close on Sunday and confident that Australia had enough talent to fill the gap he has left in the batting line-up with tours of India and England looming ahead.
The 37-year-old had said that the third test against Sri Lanka would be his last before retirement and he was at the non-striker's end when Mitchell Johnson scored the winning run to give Australia a 3-0 series sweep.
"In a way I'm quite relieved that it's over now," he said. "The stress and pressure, I can relax away from it now. I don't have that sick feeling in my stomach before I go out to bat.
"I feel like the pressure is off and I feel very proud to be able to finish in Australia and here at the SCG."
The second experienced Australian batsman to call it a day after Ricky Ponting retired at the end of the 1-0 series defeat to South Africa in early December, Hussey leaves quite a gap in the middle order.
An ever-present in the team since he made his debut at the age of 30 in 2005, Hussey scored 6,235 runs at an average of 51.52 in 79 tests with 19 centuries.
Hussey was certain he would not be missed too much with his brother David - a limited overs international - among those in the frame to replace him.
"I am not worried about the team at all," he said. "History shows that the game always moves on, players come and go but the team will always move forward.
"I am really excited for... the team, because I think there are some brilliant candidates to come in and the emotional one would be Dave to come in.
"He's wanted to do it for a while and that would be amazing. But there are probably half a dozen very good candidates that I think can come in and do a fantastic job."
Hussey's average in eight tests against Sri Lanka was an even more impressive 110.44 but that did not stop captain Mahela Jayawardene from paying tribute to him.
"I've been fortunate enough to play quite a few test matches against Huss and he's been a nemesis for us throughout the last six years," he said.
"If you see his numbers, if he had had a longer career, he probably would have been one of the greats.
"I think he's a fantastic professional and a great, great guy."
That final sentiment would be echoed all over the world of cricket for a man whose enthusiasm for the game earned him the nickname of "Mr Cricket".
Long the leader of Australia's victory song, Hussey said he would pass that duty on to Nathan Lyon because of the spinner was "a man of great character" who "understands and respects the fabric of the baggy green cap".
"There's going to be aspects that I'm going to miss as well," he said.
"Like when I'm out there when the winning runs are hit in a test match, helping Australia win a series, or being in the dressing room with the boys after the game singing the team song. But all good things have to come to an end at some stage."
(Editing by John O'Brien)
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