DAVID HUSSEY is on the edge. Just as he feared his international career was finished, he has been given another chance to prove, to himself and selectors, that he can play on the world stage.
Hussey is in a strange position. The retirement of his brother Mike has revived talk of a late Test debut, and even that a good one-day series against Sri Lanka could put him on a plane to India. But a bad one could be the end of him.
That's how it is when a 35-year-old batsman loses his way, as Hussey did during Australia's winter series against Pakistan in the UAE, when he struggled for 46 runs at 15.33 in three one-day games and was axed from the Twenty20 side on the eve of the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
Hussey said on Wednesday he feared the selectors had lost faith in him for good, but he retained his position in the depleted one-day squad for the first two matches of the series and will be the second-most experienced batsman behind Brad Haddin.
While Mike Hussey takes an earlier-than-expected holiday with his family after the selectors controversially overlooked him for the one-day series, David is preparing for the role of finishing the innings.
"I was a little bit [worried about his career]. You always want to play as much international cricket as you possibly can and the UAE series didn't go to plan, I didn't play very well at all," Hussey said. "Then the World T20, I didn't get much of an opportunity. Coming back to Australia you really want to right the wrongs and prove a few people wrong and I really have struggled for the first part of the Shield season but in one-day cricket I have done quite well.
"So this is an opportunity for me to free the mind, play with no regrets, and show a few people that I can play in the international arena. I have always had a desire to play well at the international level, more for myself. I haven't really shown the world I can and this is a great opportunity.
"I'm sure Mike is very disappointed [not to be chosen], I'm sure he wants to play more one-day cricket for Australia yet I can see where Cricket Australia is coming from.
"A few people are going to put their hands up for that finishing role. I've had a couple of goes at it and have struggled with it, so I really need to stamp my authority and do that role consistently well."
The obvious candidate to replace Mike Hussey in the Test team is Usman Khawaja but Australia's batting is so muddled that the experienced David Hussey cannot be discounted before difficult Test tours of India and England. Another potential complication is the status of Shane Watson, whose desire to return to the top of the order as a specialist batsman places Glenn Maxwell in the frame to audition as a spin-bowling all-rounder.
With the country in limited-overs mode, there are few chances for Test aspirants to press their long-form credentials or prepare for the four-Test series in India. In that respect, the one-day series assumes extra importance for the likes of Khawaja, Maxwell and David Hussey.
"Everybody is talking about replacing Mike in the Test squad and I just want to do well and contribute to the team's success," Hussey said. "What an opportunity. If I do well, the ball is in my court."