Nasser Hussain

Nasser Hussain OBE (born 28 March 1968) is a former cricketer who played for Essex and England.
In first-class cricket from 1987 to 2004 Hussain scored 20,698 runs in 334 matches at an average of 42.06, including 52 centuries. A pugnacious right-handed batsman, Hussain’s highest Test score was 207, scored in the first Test of the 1997 Ashes at Edgbaston.[1]Hussain is regarded as one of the best England Test Cricket Captains of the era for his part in transforming the side from a habitually under-performing team to one of the top teams in world cricket. Simon Barnes of The Times wrote that “Hussain is the most significant cricketer to have played for England since the war and perhaps the finest captain to hold the office.

Early years

Hussain was born in Madras, India[3] to an Indian Muslim father, Jawad Hussain (also known as “Joe”), and mother Patricia. Hussain was educated at Forest School, Walthamstow. He studied Natural Sciences at the University of Durham where he belonged to the College of St Hild and St Bede. He graduated in 1989 with a Bachelor of Science (BSc) degree.[4] His father and brother, Mehriyar Hussain, have both played first-class cricket, for Tamil Nadu and Worcestershire, respectively. As a child, Nasser’s first experiences of cricket were family visits to Chepauk, where his younger brothers Mehriyar (Mel) and Abbas used to bat on the outfield while he chased after the ball.
Jawad Hussain moved with his family to England in 1975, and later took charge of the indoor cricket school in Ilford where Nasser used to bowl for hours on end at his elder brothers, and not just because he was the youngest: he was a naturally talented leg-spin bowler. With his talent starting to show, at just eight years old, Hussain was selected to play for the Essex Under-11s, and at 12 years old and was the youngest to play for Essex Under-15s.[5]At the age of 14 Hussain was selected to play for England Schools where he first came into contact with his friend and future England colleague Mike Atherton. Born five days apart, Hussain and Atherton soon found their careers progressing in parallel as they captained, batted and bowled legspin for England age-group teams.[6]As well as Atherton, who was considered the “Golden Boy” of the North at the time, Hussain played with and against others such as Mark Ramprakash, Graham Thorpe and Trevor Ward.[7] At the age of 15, and captain of England Schools, Hussain “grew a foot in height in the winter” and the trajectory of his bowling was altered. He recounts “I went from bowling out Graham Gooch in the indoor school with everyone watching, to hitting the roof of the net or bowling triple-bouncers to deadly silence.”[6]
Hussain’s father initially refused to accept that his son couldn’t bowl to the previous high standards and continued to push him into bowling, while Hussain, full of frustration at his sudden loss of ability felt he was letting his father down.[8] For a while he dropped behind his contemporaries; Atherton, Ramprakash and Martin Bicknell were beginning to receive professional county contracts while Hussain was not being selected for representative games and England tours. Hussain switched to batting while he was still captain of Essex under-16s and moved himself up the order to get more runs and to bowl less. His batting progressed, and in that year he became the first under-16 at Forest to score 1000 runs in a season since 1901.[6] Hussain himself admits that batting never came as naturally to him as leg-spin bowling. Hussain batted with little left elbow and plenty of bottom hand, and backed-up with the bat in his right hand.[6]

Test cricket

Hussain’s Test cricket debut in 1990 was the against West Indies ending, just before lunch on the final day, England won the test by nine wickets. but lost the series 2-1[9]Hussain was subsequently not picked for the next three years. Hussain was also regarded as a bit of a hot-head, and his fiery temper briefly jeopardised his prospects of an international career.[10] At Essex Hussain continued to score runs and impress his County colleague and England Captain Graham Gooch enough to have a Test reprieve. So at the 3rd Ashes Test of 1993, Hussain joined an England team. Hussain scored 71 and 47 not out, which was enough to see him selected for the rest of the series. It was however not enough to secure his place for the subsequent winter tour, nor for that matter the next three years of Test matches.
Hussain was picked again for a Test series against India in the summer of 1996. The number 3 batting position had been troublesome for England for some time. England had tried all manner of combinations at No. 3, from the left-field Jason Gallian to the veteran Robin Smith, via the temperamentally suspect pairing of Graeme Hick and Mark Ramprakash. “A lot is made of your batting position,” Hussain recalled to Cricinfo, “but I always felt, and I did back then when David Lloyd rang me up and asked me to bat No. 3, that if you’re good enough to be playing Test cricket, you should be good enough to move from No.5 to No.3″.[11]Hussain scored 128 in the first innings. Hussain was awarded Man of The Match and with another century in the last Test that summer was awarded Man of the Series.[12]

Test captain

Hussain was the captain of the England team for 45 Test matches from 1999 to 2003; as of 2013 the third most for an England captain and the fourth most Test victories as England captain, with 17, his percentage of Tests won was higher than any of the previous five captains. Hussain became Test captain in July 1999, taking over from Alec Stewart for the series against New Zealand at home, after which he was booed by the England fans as he and his team stood on the pavilion balcony. In 2000 he led England to a 3-1 victory over the West Indies at home, and in that winter, the England team beat both Pakistan and Sri Lanka away. Under Hussain, England won four Test series in a row and rose to third place in the ICC Test Championship table when it was launched, after being ninth and last in the prototype Wisden World Championship in September 1999.
Hussain was captain of both the Test and One Day International England teams until after the 2003 Cricket World Cup, when England failed to make the second round after boycotting their match against Zimbabwe in Harare, citing security concerns. But as he stated in his autobiography Playing With Fire, the whole Zimbabwe question and the responsibility of whether or not to play against Zimbabwe was left to the captain and it was a question that “kept him awake at night”.[13]Immediately after the 2003 Cricket World Cup, after coming under heavy criticism[who?][vague], he stepped down as one-day captain, being replaced by Michael Vaughan. Later in 2003, Hussain announced his retirement as Test captain after England’s Test series against South Africa, again being replaced by Vaughan. Hussain continued as a batsman in the Test team until May 2004; Hussain’s final Test, against New Zealand at Lord’s, Hussain scored 34 and 103 not out; scoring the winning runs.

One Day Internationals

Hussain played 88 One Day internationals for England with run average average of 30.2, making his debut against Pakistan in October 1989 where he scored 2. Similarly to his Test career and the selection policy that blighted the early 1990s in English International Cricket, his ODI career was one of false starts insomuch as after his second ODI he had to wait a further four years for a re-selection. Hussain only became a regular in the ODI team by the Zimbabwe series of 1996 and 1997 where by that point he was the England Test captain. From then he went on to score 16 fifties and a single century which was against India at Lords in 2002. Hussain captained his country in 56 ODIs and played in 9 World Cup games; he resigned as captain immediately after the 2003 World Cup. Hussain’s highest score of 115 occurred against India in the summer of 2002.
In what was described by BBC correspondent Jonathan Agnew as “the most exciting one-day international” he had ever seen,[14] India were set a target by England of 327 to win. India won with 3 balls to spare.[15]For some time before the game, Hussain’s position in the ODI team and his insistence of batting at number three had been repeatedly questioned by the press, most notably Sky Sports commentators, and future colleagues, .[16]Hussain courted controversy after his position before the India game was questioned by member of the press such Ian Botham and Bob Willis. During his Innings he partnered Marcus Trescothick scoring 185 off just 167 balls. But after reaching his century Hussain gestured wildly to the press box, by pointing to the number 3 on his back and raising three fingers to the media box.[17][2
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