David Hussey, the former Australia batsman, is the new coach of Melbourne Stars for next summer’s Big Bash League, after winning a duel with ex-Victoria coach David Saker for the role to replace the outgoing Stephen Fleming.
ESPNcricinfo has learnt that, after having served in various assistant coaching roles since his retirement as a player, Hussey was ultimately considered the best choice by the Stars’ management and board to maintain the steady improvement of the men’s team in the 2018-19 BBL, where the club rose from its lowest-ever finish the previous season to be narrowly defeated by Melbourne Renegades in the competition final.
Formerly the captain of the Stars, Hussey has strong relationships with Fleming and also the Stars chief executive Clint Cooper, making for a more seamless transition from one coach to another than may have been the case if Saker had taken the job. Hussey was also named as a Cricket Victoria Board director in October 2018.
Hussey and Saker are believed to have interviewed for the job last week, with Hussey offered the role on Friday.
After working successfully as England’s bowling coach, Saker was named as the coach of Victoria and also Melbourne Renegades for 2015-16, before he was recruited by Cricket Australia as assistant coach to Darren Lehmann. He left that role in February following the conclusion of the home Test season, amid differences with Lehmann’s successor Justin Langer.
“Under Boof [Lehmann] particularly, we won an Ashes and had some really good series wins, so that was good. There were obviously some frustrating times after South Africa,” Saker said earlier this month. “New coach came in, things changed quite a bit, and I probably wasn’t as passionate as I was before that.
“On reflection, it’s probably a good thing that I got out, just refreshed myself. As I said, I’m ready to go again. I enjoyed my time with the Australian cricket team but I think it was time for me to move on.”
Fleming, also coach of Chennai Super Kings in the IPL, has remained a part of the Stars set-up as an international talent advisor despite electing, after reaching two BBL finals in four seasons, to exit the role. “I feel the time is right for me to step down and allow someone else to take the reins and the club forward,” he said when announcing his departure.
“The club is in very good shape having rebounded from last in BBL07 to grand finalist this season. Whilst we didn’t get the ultimate prize I’m confident that the group of players we have assembled will be motivated to go one further next season.”
The Stars, captained by Glenn Maxwell, appeared on course to win the BBL final comfortably at Docklands Stadium in February, before crumbling in their chase to hand the title to the Renegades.
“This will probably drive us next year, we’ll use it as motivation to go one step further,” Maxwell said at the time. “We were so close. With eight overs to go, we probably looked like we were winners. To fall that short is disappointing. It’s hard to take right now, but once the dust settles, we’ll get back into it next year.”
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