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Last Updated: Monday, 28 July, 2003, 19:15 GMT 20:15 UK
Hussain's lasting legacy
By Oliver Brett

Nasser Hussain
Hussain looked upset as he announced his resignation

Nasser Hussain has frequently been described as the finest English Test captain since Mike Brearley.

It is true that he never got close to winning the Ashes in the two Test series against Australia in which he skippered the side.

And the recent World Cup turned into a disastrous campaign both on and off the pitch.

But along the way he led his team to four Test series wins in a row - ending England's reputation as the laughing-stock of international cricket.

In South Africa in February, however, there were clear signs that the pressure was getting too much.

He was forced into a corner by the game's administrators but bravely pulled his team out of the World Cup match against Zimbabwe when none of them wanted to play.

THE HIGHS
England won four Test series in a row between June 2000 and March 2001
They beat Zimbabwe 1-0 before coming from behind to beat West Indies 3-1
They then won 1-0 in Pakistan and again came from behind to win 2-1 in Sri Lanka

That experience was enough for him to call it a day as England's one-day captain and the end of his tenure as Test captain was bound to follow soon enough.

Hussain has seen England through thick and thin in recent times, enjoying some wonderful highs but overseeing some dreadful lows.

England were unofficially ranked the worst team in the world after defeat to New Zealand in his first series in 1999.

And although he performed well with the bat in South Africa the following winter, his team lost the series.

It was time for them to start winning and the ball started rolling with a glorious series victory over the West Indies, England's first against them since 1969.

THE LOWS
England were thumped in both Ashes series in which Hussain was in charge
They generally performed poorly as a one-day side
They won only one of seven Test series between summer 2001 and the winter of 2002-03

The upward curve continued with further success that winter, and the back-to-back series wins against Pakistan and Sri Lanka were as surprising as they were impressive.

All the time, stubbornness proved one of Hussain's greatest assets as a captain.

He backed his players to the hilt, refused to buckle under pressure, and showed opponents no quarter.

Occasionally his emotions got the better of him - best illustrated by his angry gesture to the press box after scoring a century against India in the NatWest Series final last year.

But his team-mates fed off him.

He led by example in the field and his fierce determination rubbed off on his inexperienced team, galvanising them into a unit who realised they could win big matches.

Fletcher and Hussain together
Fletcher and Hussain bonded well

Hussain always had reputation as a fiery youngster, but matured immeasurably in the years that led up to his appointment as captain.

After making his Test debut in the same 1990 Test that Alec Stewart began his England career, Hussain was excluded from the reckoning for three long years.

But two centuries in the home series against India in 1996 finally saw him back in the England side for good.

And soon he began exuding many of the qualities that would persuade the selectors to make him captain three years later.

Hussain's period as captain will be remembered for the partnership he formed with coach Duncan Fletcher which reinvigorated the game in England and saw the punters returning to the turnstiles.

Under his captaincy, the careers of Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick blossomed - and a new star in James Anderson was born.

But those three belong to a new era. Hussain knows it and now he wants those players to develop under their own steam.





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