FORMER Australian captain Steve Waugh has described the national selectors’ decision to dump world-class batsman Mike Hussey from Australia’s World Cup defence as ”staggering”.Waugh, who led Australia to the first of its three straight world titles in 1999, expressed his blunt view as reports surfaced that Hussey had overcome his hamstring injury and was keen to play for Western Australia’s Sheffield Shield team during the week against Tasmania before he was overruled by Cricket Australia.”If he was going to play in any game of cricket, it should be in the World Cup,” Waugh said.Advertisement: Story continues below.Hussey, who insisted he would have been fit enough to play against co-host Sri Lanka on March 5 had he been selected in the squad, has been cleared to play for WA in a shield game starting against Queensland at the WACA Ground this Thursday – two days before Australia’s third World Cup clash.Adding to the potential embarrassment for the national selectors, who ruled him out after surgery on a hamstring injury received in the one-day series against England, was Hussey’s view he would have been 100 per cent fit by the time the World Cup’s knockout stage started on March 23.Waugh said the 35-year-old veteran of 151 one-day internationals offered the experience teams wanting to win the tournament required.”Unless they play very, very badly, there’s no way Australia won’t make the quarter-finals,” he told The Sunday Age. “At the end of the day, it’s all about quarter-finals; you win three games from there and you win the World Cup.”If Mike Hussey could have been fit [to play in the tournament], he should have gone away. I’m sure Ricky [Ponting, Australian captain] would have wanted him to go away with them. His experience is invaluable, particularly on the [subcontinent] wickets, and he plays spin well. I was staggered he wasn’t picked.”Waugh also added that the selectors had set a precedent for selecting an injured player to allow him time to ”run” back into fitness at the last World Cup in the West Indies when Andrew Symonds was given such latitude. Ponting also went to India despite nursing the broken little finger that kept him out of the SCG Ashes Test and the subsequent one-day series against England.
“They did it last time with Andrew Symonds when he went over with a biceps injury even though he needed to be rested for the first few games,” Waugh said.”Michael Hussey is one guy who would’ve really committed himself to getting fit. The selectors though, must have heard something, but there are three or four guys sitting on the bench over there and not playing, and Hussey could have been one of them. Time will tell if the selectors made the right decision. They have to go with their gut feeling.”Hussey’s absence was emphasised in Australia’s 91-run win over Zimbabwe in its opening match in Ahmedabad last Monday. Despite winning, it struggled against the African minnow’s spin attack.Hussey has fought numerous rearguard battles for Australia, and his ability to hold together an innings by pushing the ball around the middle, coupled with his penchant for playing spin, was missed – BBC