January 24, 2002

Hussain hopes for winning return to his birthplace

Nasser Hussain
Hussain - a special tour
Photo AFP

England go into the third one-day international against India in Chennai buoyed up by the fact that they have again managed to show steely resolve after a disappointing start to a series abroad.

But for the staggering umpiring decision that terminated Marcus Trescothick's innings on Saturday, England might well be two-nil up in the series, and it says much for their resilience that they moved straight on to defend what was no more than a respectable total at Cuttack. That they did so without needing to pick either Graham Thorpe or Andrew Caddick is indicative of the progress that has been made in rejuvenating the one-day squad, after last winter's disappointments and the midsummer whitewash at the hands of Australia and Pakistan.

The England coach, Duncan Fletcher, admitted: "It's the first time I've been in this position with England where we've had two quality players sitting on the bench. We have to consider them for selection and Nasser and I have a difficult job tomorrow.

"The series is delicately poised at 1-1 and tomorrow's game is going to be very important. We have to look at how the side have played in the other two games and make up our minds from that.

"We've had a chat to them both and they appreciated that, which is what is so good about this side. It's important we have a squad of 15 players who realise that even if they're not playing they still have a job to do. They have to keep that spirit going.

"Everyone wants England to win so I'm sure they appreciate our selection policies. We wanted to give everyone a chance, we're trying to give everybody some experience."

The fact that Paul Collingwood, for example, was made man of the match after only his second ODI in India can only fuel England's hopes of competing effectively in South Africa when the chips are down a year from now. And Michael Vaughan, another with much talent to offer in both forms of the game, justified the selectors' consistency with his first limited-overs half century. England's captain will therefore be hoping that England can mark his return to his birthplace by taking a 2-1 series lead.

"I have very few memories of Madras but the way I've been treated in India has been so special for me and I don't expect Madras to be any different," said Hussain.

"My dad's from Madras and, more importantly, there are some very close friends of his still connected with the cricket club he used to play for.

"He used to hold up the bar for about 15 years and tell stories about his off-breaks and it will be a special game for him to have his son lead out England there, but it is also an important game for us."

Hussain's father Joe has flown out to watch the match, and a special dinner is being organised in the city for his benefit.

"I'm planning to go to the cricket club where my dad played, and I'm also planning to see some family while we're there, but it'll be a difficult couple of days because we also have a day-night international to play as well," Hussain added

"This has been a very special tour for me, everyone is interested in me, with my name and my upbringing, but it's all been very friendly. There've been no shouts of traitor or anything like that.

"I've already told Phil Neale that I'll need quite a few tickets for the Madras game. I don't have family in Cuttack or Kolkata or any of the other places, so I've had plenty of requests for this one. I think I'll be using up my full quota of tickets."

It's quite a schedule for the England captain, but no part of it will carry more significance than the moment when he leads his team out at the MA Chidambaram Stadium tomorrow afternoon.