July 12, 2002

We must go forward all the time - Hussain

Nasser Hussain collected his OBE at Buckingham Palace today, but was quickly back into his stride as England's captain ahead of tomorrow's NatWest Series final against India at Lord's.

Hussain received the OBE from Prince Charles, but is now concentrating on England's tenth one-day encounter with India this year. The score stands at four-all with one game, at Chester-le-Street last week, abandoned.

"Today was the first opportunity to go to the Palace and I wanted to do that and now I've done that it's back to my day job trying to win games of cricket, but I wouldn't swap the award I got today for much," said Hussain.

"This is not that important in the grand scheme of things. We won this tournament two years ago when we had Zimbabwe and West Indies over here and no one remembers that too highly now.

"But it will be nice to win and you do have to keep an eye on that World Cup even though it will probably be better to beat them in the World Cup because that will be the major one-day tournament.

"Sometimes it's frustrating when we take one step forward and two steps back and it would be nice to just go forward all the time, but that has got to come from our disciplines and our work ethic.

"Just because we've had a good game against India at the Oval, it doesn't mean we can afford to slack off in practice - we have to try to go forward all the time."

Everyone in the England team tomorrow will be aiming to clinch a place in this winter's one-day squads for the ICC Champions' Trophy in Sri Lanka, the triangular series in Australia which follows, and quite probably the World Cup campaign, which England launch against Zimbabwe in Harare next February.

"We're closer now than ever to picking our one-day squad for the World Cup and a good performance and a good result against India in this match will make it very difficult to make too many changes," said Hussain.

"There haven't been that many new names in this squad from the winter tours - we've shuffled and made ourselves a bit more flexible in our batting line-ups and we're closer to knowing our squad, but we're still a little bit away from knowing our best XI.

"We've got plenty of games to put that right and the door's not closed by any means. You only have to see Ronnie Irani as an example - two or three months ago nobody had him down but know everyone has him in the squad and there's other people out there who could easily burst into this squad."

One selection dilemma concerns Graham Thorpe, who missed one game because of a slight ankle injury, and was not selected for the last two.

"He's played a lot of cricket for England over the last two years when he's been available for selection and it will be a very difficult selection because all 15 people could easily play," Hussain said.

"Originally he had a sore ankle and we wanted to give him a rest, look at Michael Vaughan and try a few other things and be a bit more dynamic in the field.

"We want people to get caps under their belt so that if someone rocks up for a semi-final injured or something the lads that are coming in have played quite a bit of cricket."

Thorpe, Darren Gough and Andrew Flintoff are all available despite slight injuries, and Dominic Cork will not necessarily be in the final eleven after being called up as a replacement for James Kirtley.