April 3, 2002

England will benefit from player development over the winter

England might have failed to win a Test series during their winter campaign but the longer term benefits from player development and experience gathering are likely to serve the side well in the future.

England captain Nasser Hussain, who last led his side a Test series victory over Sri Lanka in March last year, said the summer had been useful and the younger players in the side had progressed immeasurably.

The bowling of Andrew Flintoff, Matthew Hoggard and Richard Dawson, the spin bowling of Ashley Giles and the batting of James Foster, had all been of value to the team.

"The amount of young lads who we are bringing into the side who are doing well has got to be good for English cricket.

"The heart and effort, the way they stick to their plans. The way someone like Flintoff has bowled long spells, the heart of Hoggard, the batting of [Graham] Thorpe was all good," he said.

While there were technical matters of concern one of the issues was the need to score more big centuries. Other countries could do it, but England needed to do it more often.

Hussain felt the portable pitches had provided fascinating cricket but he felt they did need to start Test matches in a drier state because at the moment spinners were being taken out of the game.

"There is a period of time in Test cricket when it takes someone of mystery to take wickets," he said.

At the moment, on the pitches there was always a ball just around the corner that could have taken a wicket.

In considering their approach to the last day in Auckland Hussain said they were going to play with positive intent. That didn't involve being reckless but the players who had shown positive intent on the pitch had done well.

"Any prodder has not been successful, defensive shots were just as dangerous as positive shots," he said.

The side had tried to show people they were trying, they were playing for their country and were trying their best. But at the same time they needed to win Test series and matches but they hadn't quite rounded that off, he said.