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Anorak | Carrying His Bat

Carrying His Bat

by | 7th, August 2003

‘MARK Nicholas is labouring in the belief that Nasser Hussain has somehow wronged England.

Nasser protects himself against the brickbats thrown at him

Writing in the Telegraph, Channel 4’s pouting cricket presenter says that ‘the bravest thing Hussain could have done was to stay in charge’ for the Lord’s Test.

Nicholas is under the impression that in resigning as skipper between back-to-back Tests, Hussain gave new captain Michael Vaughan little chance to prepare, little time to ‘think clearly and fully’ about the job.

Are we to infer from this that, because Hussain left his job, one that we imagined he long wanted, enjoyed doing and did well, England failed so utterly at Lord’s?

The captain’s job is important, as Hussain has illustrated by his ability to turn the bulk of his predecessor Stewart’s rag-tag bunch of losers into a fighting force.

But captaincy is not the be all and end all. The players who have to bat well under Hussain have to bat well under Vaughan.

The same bowlers who failed so miserably in the St John’s Wood sunshine care not who is the captain when they run up to deliver.

The actions are routine. The skipper can pick who will bowl at a certain time and from what end and seek winning combinations, but he cannot magic up wickets.

The worst thing Hussain did was to drop Graeme Smith when he was not yet in double figures. Hussain’s lack of application cost England dear as the South African captain racked up a massive score.

Had Vaughan done as Smith did, or at least not given his wicket up so cheaply in both innings, Hussain would only be under attack for his lack of impact with the bat and in the field and not his decision to step down.

Hussain did nothing that was not brave or, by inference, cowardly and self-serving in stepping down when he did. He went and he went quickly.

Given what happened at Lord’s immediately after, Hussain should be applauded for his consummate timing – if only it were so with the bat.

The truly amazing thing is that he is still in the team along with that other former England captain Alec Stewart.

In making Vaughan a captain, the selectors must hold the belief that he can be his own man and lead a team to victory. That job started on the first day at Lord’s.



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