New book reveals selection rifts September 27, 2004

Hussain hits out at Graveney

Wisden Cricinfo staff

David Graveney: 'Too quick to worry about what the press are saying' © Getty Images

Nasser Hussain has hit out at England's weak selection policy during the early days of his captaincy, and has accused the chairman of selectors, David Graveney, of being "too interested in protecting his own job".

Hussain resigned as England captain in 2003 before retiring a year later after a matchwinning century at Lord's, and subsequently entered the media as a commentator for Sky Sports. His autobiography, Playing With Fire, is released next month and promises to be a typically forthright account of his four-year tenure. Some early extracts have been serialised in the Daily Mail, for which Hussain also writes a regular column.

These days, the England team is a tightly run unit, with central contracts offering an essential measure of security for all the first-team players. But when Hussain was first appointed captain in 1999, he says that the selection policy was a much more hit-and-miss affair.

"I like David Graveney," Hussain writes. "He cares. He wants English cricket to do well. But he's too interested in protecting his own job. He tries to keep everybody happy and is too quick to worry about what the press are saying."

Hussain goes on: "There's no doubt the selection panel wasn't strong enough then and a lot of it was down to Graveney. He would listen to anyone, be influenced by too many people. I'm all for democracy, but you really have to draw a line and have the courage of your own convictions if you are chairman of selectors."

But it wasn't just Graveney who was at fault, in a summer when England slumped to the bottom of the pile in Test cricket. Ian Botham and Mike Gatting were also consulted on selection matters, and both receive short shrift from Hussain - especially Botham, who is now his colleague and sparring partner at Sky.

"There was never any consistency in [Botham's] arguments," says Hussain. "He'd say one thing one day and then suddenly he'd be saying that the same bloke he had been pushing for a year was now complete rubbish. By the end of his time advising the panel, I was listening to what he thought I should do and then doing exactly the opposite."