There was an elephant in the room when Mike Hussey strode to the lectern to deliver his address at yesterday's Leadership Matters event.
And the WA cricket legend, who retired from the international game in January, was quick to confront the recent high-profile suspensions of Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja and James Pattinson after they failed to complete a post-match homework assignment this month.
"I really wish that issue was dealt with behind closed doors, rather than publicly humiliating those players involved. Surely there could have been a different penalty given to those guys for being late to a meeting or wearing a wrong T-shirt or not doing a team exercise," Hussey told a 550-strong crowd attending The West Australian's luncheon.
"I feel the punishment did not really fit the crime and a player missing a test match is an extremely tough punishment."
The 37-year-old father of four was clearly aware of the weight his opinion carried, saying, "Right, I have got that off my chest and now I can move on", as soon as he had addressed the issue.
In a nod to the title of the The West's events program, Hussey regularly injected the theme of leadership into his 40-minute speech at the Perth Convention and Exhibition Centre, even weaving it into his explanation of the much talked-about rotation system.
"By keeping a team together, I think it builds trust," he said.
"It encourages team play rather than looking after yourself and looking over your shoulder. It allows a culture to build naturally and it also allows the personalities of different players to come out. In a lot of ways I believe if you look after the now the future will take care of itself."
With a career spanning 20 seasons and the moniker Mr Cricket, a nickname given to him because of his encyclopaedic knowledge and love of the game, Hussey is well placed to talk on the issue of leadership.
Hussey's mark on the game was again thrown into headlines this week when Australian coach Mickey Arthur talked about recruiting him to help Australia take on England.
It was a theoretical approach which Hussey yesterday scotched. But he was less definitive when talking about the possibility of another season with the Warriors.
"I believe the best leaders deal with different people according to their personality," he said. "Everyone is different and motivated by different messages."
He said former coach John Buchanan was a master of knowing how to deal with divergent personalities, which Hussey said fell into four categories: mozzies, enforcers, thinkers and feelers.
"A great example was Shane Warne," Hussey said. "John would deliberately get Warnie to hate him by saying certain things in a team meeting, which he knew Warnie completely disagreed with.
"It was a genius move by John: get Warnie into a frame of mind of wanting to go out there and prove that he is wrong and I am right."
Hussey ended his speech by paying homage to Ricky Ponting, who he described as "the best leader I have ever encountered during my time as a player".
"He led from the front. He motivated people differently according to their personalities," Hussey said.By keeping a team together, I think it builds trust.
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