Anorak News | Thanks, Nasser

Thanks, Nasser

by | 30th, July 2003

‘NASSER Hussain’s England will not go down as one of the best ever England sides.

A force for good

The record of played 45, won 17, drawn 13, lost 15, shows Nasser’s record as captain slightly over the average.

He will though be recalled as someone who kept England going. In 1999, when Nasser was appointed England captain, taking over from Alec Stewart, England were not a great outfit.

Granted, Stewart had just led England to their first major Test series victory for 13 years, when they beat South Africa 2-1. But the cricket played was routinely dreadful.

Hussain was seen as a straight bat both on and off the pitch at a time when England had too many sloggers and slicers.

His first job was to galvanise the team and take on New Zealand. A gentle opener on paper, but the Kwis could have been excused for thinking the same.

He started spectacularly well, leading England to a two-and-a-half-day victory over New Zealand after England had been 45 for 7, but lost the series.

England were officially ranked as the worst Test team in the world – a position not helped by a pretty poor tour of South Africa, in which England twice losing Tests by an innings.

But then came a kind of dream-like state. Under Hussain, England won four Test series in a row for the first time since Mike Brearley in the later 1970s.

Zimbabwe and the West Indies were relatively easy meat, although it was the first series victory over the latter for three decades, but away wins against Pakistan and Sri Lanka were magnificent.

Few teams go to the sub-continent and return with anything other than a bad stomach. England went and came back with heads held very high. They were on a roll.

Although they have not been able to sustain that improvement, especially in two desperately disappointing Ashes series, England are now ranked fourth in the world.

After a period of prolonged and sustained dire Test cricket, Hussain has helped turn England into a competitive force.

Those who watch the live game for more than a reason to leave the office or to see how far a popped champagne cork can encroach onto the playing surface can now open the fingers covering their eyes a notch wider.

Thanks to Hussain’s hard work, England have a restored sense of worth. It’s now up to Michael Vaughan, the new skipper, to take things on a stage further…

Posted: 30th, July 2003 | In: Back pages Comment | TrackBack | Permalink