Nasser Hussain: It would be very nice to tour India more often

Anand Vasu

November 17, 2001

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Nasser Hussain walked up to the Crystal South hall of the Taj Palace sporting a broad grin and a cup of steaming tea on the eve of England's warm up match against Mumbai Cricket Association President's XI. The England skipper was relaxed and spoke freely to pressmen on a variety of issues that are likely to stick with the tourists for the duration of the tour. As England captain, he has been deluged with requests for interviews, photo opportunities and all the other trappings that come with occupying high office and being popular at the same time.

On the kind of things the England team management had to work out when on a tour like the current one at India:

NH: We do discuss things like that getting players to peak at the right time quite a bit but I try and leave as much of that to Fletcher as possible. He's really good at getting people to peak at the right time. When we have one of our management meetings I might suggest, off the cuff, that we play someone for two warm up games and rest him for the third. Fletcher might then ask if it would be better to play the person in the first game and then give him a bit of a rest and play him in the third game just before the Test. Those are the sorts of things we discuss in our management meetings. We have a few players like Vaughan and Ormond who have niggling injuries and we need to concentrate on getting people in top form, fitness and cricket wise in time for the Test matches. You need to work with different people differently. Someone like Atherton would have one way of preparing before a big game while others need to be fired up a bit.

What it's like leading a young side in the absence of Atherton, Stewart, Gough and others.

NH: As far as running the side, nothing has changed at all. Myself and Duncan (Fletcher) have always run the side. This management structure is virtually the same as before. We have a few experienced cricketers even in this side. What we don't have really is the experience of playing Test matches together. I enjoy captaining this side, sure. But that's not because I didn't enjoy captaining Atherton, Stewart and Gough and the other guys. It's just that this is a completely different challenge. It's almost like our last Zimbabwe tour, a fresh, new challenge.

On the kind of challenges that lie ahead and the mental aspect of it all:

NH: Anyone who has been here before knows a bit about the challenges. We don't want to overdo the mind games too much. The ball does a bit early on, swinging around, and then they have two quality spinners and some great batsman. It's just a question of how we cope with it. It's the actual cricket that's important, the mind games are just two percent of the whole deal. It's not the kind of game where you go out and win by the scruff of the neck. You have to stay in the game and put pressure on the local side. We have to make sure that we are still in game towards the end of the Test match and that the pressure is on India at some stage.

How England plan to achieve their goals in India:

NH: We're an inexperienced side and no one expects us to win. Quite a few people have been writing us off 3-0. India will be playing at home with big crowds expecting a lot of them. If we stay in the game, if this inexperienced side does well, the pressure will be on India, not us. The only way to do that is to get the basic cricketing things right. We need to get a lot of first innings runs, take wickets with the new ball, take every catch, field like the Australians and South Africans are doing at the moment. The most important thing is to get plenty of runs on the board in the first innings.

On the fact that Matthew Hoggard who has played just two Tests is England's fast bowling spearhead:

NH: Yes he is. (Laughs) With his two Test caps! Then again we mustn't build him up. Just because he's bowled well Pakistan and Zimbabwe and for Yorkshire. Virtually everything they've done so far has no bearing on how this tour goes. How well they prepare for this tour, will decide a lot of things. They have to cope with the pressure and the heat and the sweat and the roaring crowds. That will really test all the youngsters. Matthew (Hoggard) is like anyone else. He's only played two games. If he was bowling at Headingly on a cloudy day I'd say he had a really good chance of doing well. Now we'll just have to wait and see, like with everyone else. Obviously he's got my full support and backing. He's got everything he needs; a big heart and it'll be a stern test for him just like everyone else.

On the wicket at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai where England kick off their tour:

NH: To be honest it's not what I expected an Indian wicket to look like. It's got a lot of grass on it. Bounce in the surface is good. There's a bit of movement. And yet, I think it'll turn a bit from the first day, more from the grass than anything else. I think it'll be a good cricket wicket.

What it's like coming to India after a gap of almost eight years:

NH: Personally it would be very nice to tour India more often, what with all the attention we get and everything. I can't speak for past tours. We hadn't been to the subcontinent for a long time until last winter. Now in the space of 12 months we've fitted in Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India. We're getting used to it. There must be some of the younger lads who find it a bit daunting with the sheer numbers of people around. Usually in county cricket we're playing in front of two people! I was listening to Sunil Gavaskar on TV last night and he was talking about all of the Indian players going out and giving their best. That's what I'm going to be telling my boys and I hope we can be successful. Really, that's all I can ask of them.

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