Mr Cricket Hopes To Reignite Welsh Fire’s Passion

Former Australian cricketer Michael Hussey looks to bring Welsh Fire back to its roots and build a special connection with the fans and local community, as he hopes to make something very special this summer in the Welsh capital.

‘Mr Cricket’ plans to bring some excitement to Cardiff after being appointed head coach of the struggling Hundred side Welsh Fire, following the departure of former World Cup winning coach Gary Kirsten.

Hussey has enjoyed a successful career, including a nine-year stint in the Australian Test side, scoring 6,236 runs at an average of 51.52 in 79 test caps for the Baggy Greens.

His arrival certainly is a boost for Welsh cricket, who will welcome one of the greats of the game to Sophia Gardens this August. It’s hoped Hussey’s arrival will make a big impact on the young players in Wales.

With the Welsh franchise only picking up (three) wins during Kirsten’s two-year reign in the Welsh Capital, it’s likely the Aussie will have a tough job on his hands, but Hussey is certainly positive about the team’s prospects ahead of the upcoming season:

“We will start with a clean slate. We want to play an exciting brand of cricket for the fans to watch. It is certainly going to be fun to test ourselves in the competition because it’s so competitive,” said Hussey.

“I really want to connect with the local community, and I want the fans to really fall in love with this team.

“Wales is a place I loved coming to as an overseas player playing county cricket. I loved the ground, and the fans were always fantastic. It is a ground that I have a lot of fond memories from playing at and hopefully there are more to be made.

“I think we can make an us versus them mentality. One of my aims is to try and take advantage of our ground to make the most of that home advantage, where teams find it difficult to come and play.

“I have a clear picture in my mind about the makeup and the structure of the team, but it’s a case of all of us working together to try and fill those gaps and get the right players in the right seats.”

Hussey turned to coaching following the announcement of his retirement from all forms of cricket in 2016. He was appointed the Director of Cricket for Sydney Thunder in 2016 before becoming the batting coach for the Chennai Super Kings in 2018.

As a player, the 48-year-old also has experience in a growing franchise, during his time with Sydney Thunder in the early years of the Big Bash League in Australia, and so he may be one of the best placed people to bring Welsh Fire out of their slump and start them on a new path in the coming season.

“I think it is the best time to come into the competition really,” added Hussey.

“I’m really excited about the tournament and the chance to work with some really exciting players. I’ve done a fair bit of coaching in an assistant capacity, but this is my first time in a head coach role.”

Apart from a desire to see Welsh Fire shake up their game, Hussey seems enthused by a genuine interest and passion in the local community and wants to nurture local development in the sport:

“Hopefully I can have a big impact on Welsh cricket, it’s certainly one of my goals. I want to tap into local Welsh talent.

“We will see how things play out with the draft, but I would love if we could get some of that local talent into our squad so they can then develop as players and take that back to Glamorgan cricket and Welsh cricket as well.

“I want the team to engage with the local community to hopefully put cricket up there with sports like football and rugby in the front of the Welsh public’s minds.
“From a playing point of view, it is also an exciting prospect. I’d love every single player to leave the tournament a better player than they were when they came in. It’s part of our role as coaches, to accelerate their development.

“There will be plenty of experience from some of the overseas players, franchise cricket is a great environment to learn in, even for myself. I’m looking forward to that challenge too.

CARDIFF, WALES – AUGUST 13: Tammy Beaumont (L) and Hayley Matthews (R) of Welsh Fire during The Hundred match between Welsh Fire Women v Birmingham Phoenix Women – The Hundred at Sophia Gardens on August 13, 2022 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Luke Walker – ECB/ECB via Getty Images)

Welsh Fire’s new coach believes that franchise cricket and the shorter format of the game has, on the whol,e had a positive impact on the sport and is excited about the potential for the Hundred to become a gateway into the sport for many young children, families and the wider public.

“I think it is really good for the game on the field, but even better off the field because we need to attract so many new fans to the game,” Hussey commented.

“There’s so much competition from other sports with rugby and football in both the UK and Australia. This is a great way to attract new fans to the game.

“We can then introduce new fans into other forms of the game, so we have a big role in playing an exciting brand of cricket that I hope will deliver cricket to a new audience.”