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Monday, August 23, 1999 Published at 14:24 GMT 15:24 UK

England flops are 'beyond belief'

David Graveney and Nasser Hussain face the wrath of the media

Chairman of selectors David Graveney described England's recent record as "beyond belief", as the post mortem began into the series defeat by New Zealand.

Nasser Hussain: "Now it's official England are the worst side"
While captain Nasser Hussain remained firmly behind his humbled players, Graveney was in less forgiving mood.

The Kiwis' crushing success at The Oval gave them their first ever series win in England.

And Graveney highlighted the team's ever-fragile batting line-up as the main cause of their troubles.

[ image: Futile gesture: Ronnie Irani faces up to last-day hero Dion Nash]
Futile gesture: Ronnie Irani faces up to last-day hero Dion Nash
"Our batting has failed to function all the way through the series and that is the thing that has to be addressed," he said.

"The past couple of years have been littered with collapses that sometimes are beyond belief.

"We just lose wickets in a rush. We were 143 for three today and 162 all out.

"New Zealand were 104 for seven and 39 for six in their respective innings but their tail has wagged during this series.

"In terms of the runs that have to be got from the whole batting order - that's high on the agenda."

Pride in defeat

Captain Hussain agreed with Graveney - but he chose to talk up the opposition's achievements rather than concentrate on his own team's failings.

[ image: A despondent Nasser Hussain puts on a brave face at the presentation ceremony]
A despondent Nasser Hussain puts on a brave face at the presentation ceremony
"As a batting unit we really didn't perform and that's where we've let ourselves down in the end," Hussain said.

"We lost to a better side in a great Test match and New Zealand played well throughout the tour.

"I think they're a very strong team. Their captain led by example. Chris Cairns got wickets when they needed them and all the way down they played good cricket."

Chris Cairns: "Experience is about being in situations and knowing what to do"
Hussain singled out England man-of-the-series Andy Caddick and spinner Phil Tufnell for praise and claimed "there were good performances scattered around."

He added: "I'm very proud of my team and the way they fought.

"If they play like that and fight like that, especially in the field, they won't go too far wrong in the future."

Kiwis drained

New Zealand skipper Stephen Fleming admitted his side's whole summer had rested on the outcome of the fourth day at The Oval.

[ image: A jubilant Stephen Fleming welcomes the winning wicket]
A jubilant Stephen Fleming welcomes the winning wicket
"We were waiting again for another cameo from Mike Atherton but we got his wicket and then got on a bit of a roll.

"It's emotionally draining. We knew we had four months riding on the result of today's cricket. It went our way and we probably deserved it."

Fleming reserved special praise for his bowlers, particularly Dion Nash, whose four for 39 sealed the match.

"We talked about one person making the day special and Dion said he hoped it was him last night," added Fleming.

"It was him, and it was an outstanding spell. He's an emotional player and when he gets it right he's superb."

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