Former Australian test stars Michael Hussey and Shane Watson will be Kings for a day.
The duo will play on the same team for the first time in three years when they arrive in Christchurch next month.
Hussey and Watson are set to light up Hagley Oval when they feature in a trans-Tasman Twenty20 clash for the Sydney Thunder against the Canterbury Kings on December 4.
Two days later, they will make a cameo appearance for the Kings in their final Twenty20 match on December 6 against Central Districts at the same venue.
The match promises to be a treat for Canterbury cricket fans with CD’s side boasting Sri Lanka great Mahela Jayawardene, who retired after this year’s World Cup.
Hussey, 40, and Watson, 34, will be the highest-profile imports to play for Canterbury in the 10-year history of T20 in New Zealand.
Canterbury Cricket chief executive Lee Germon trumpeted them as among the finest to have lined up the competition, ranking them alongside Brett Lee and Muttiah Muralitharan [who have previously played for Wellington] and Australian opener David Warner, who turned out for Northern Districts in 2010.
Hussey, nicknamed “Mr Cricket”, last represented Australia in 2013 but still plays T20 around the world. He is captain of the Thunder, perennial under-achievers in Australia’s Big Bash.
Allrounder Watson was a member of Australia’s World Cup-winning team earlier this year and in 2007.
He has retired from test cricket, but is still eligible for selection in the white ball forms and is targeting selection for March’s Twenty20 World Cup in India.
When Hussey and Watson represent the Thunder against the Kings it will be their first time on the same team since the Boxing Day test in 2012 against Sri Lanka in Melbourne.
“I love playing with him,” Hussey said.
“He’s still got pretty big ambitions about playing for Australia in the T20 World Cup. [These two games] sort of starts off his campaign and gets him in T20 mode and playing well. I’m sure he’ll be really motivated to play well.”
Watson enjoyed many memorable partnerships with Hussey over the years. He recalled batting with him against the World XI at Melbourne’s Docklands Stadium under the dome in 2005. Hussey hit the roof with one of his shots off South African quick Makhaya Ntini and Watson burst into hysterics at the other end.
“That was one of the first memories I remember batting with Mike. He hit the roof and he got no runs for it. That one stands out,” Watson said.
Canterbury were able to land Hussey and Watson through their close relationship with the Thunder.
Germon said they shared a strategic alliance with the Australian outfit and hoped to make the match an annual event.
Getting Hussey and Watson in for a one-game stint with the Kings had not been exorbitant, Germon said.
“We’ve got a very small budget in terms of overseas players, but we’re able to accommodate both within that, so that’s heartening.”
Watson was unlikely to bowl in a match until the Thunder’s opening Big Bash game in mid-December due to a recent calf injury, which will see him play as a batsman only for Canterbury.
He returns to action on Saturday in Sydney club cricket.
Watson said it would be a unique experience to play against the Kings and then team up with them in the next match.
“We’ll have to be very careful with how competitive we are on the Friday night and don’t get too carried away. It’s going to be good to get some high quality practice in.”
Both Hussey and Watson were eager to play at Hagley Oval for the first time. They had only played at the earthquake-damaged Lancaster Park for Australia.
Hussey was looking forward to getting back in the middle again after commentating the Australia-New Zealand test series for Channel Nine.
Since playing for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League in May his only other bat had been with the Prime Minister’s XI against the Black Caps last month.
Written by Brendon Egan