Hussain: "People are enjoying watching England"
Photo © CricInfo
The Third Test between England and West Indies - a match which regularly promised a more exciting finish - may have ended in a draw at Old Trafford today, but that hasn't prevented home captain Nasser Hussain from continuing to make upbeat assessments about the overall improvement of his team.
Speaking after England had finished at 80/1 (and 212 short of a target of 292 set them by West Indies courtesy of a post-lunch declaration) on a day of rain interruptions, Hussain stated that he was generally happy with the way his team had acquitted itself in the match.
"West Indies showed lots of fight, but you expect a side with Brian Lara and Jimmy Adams to show some fight with the bat - they did that and we had to prise them out. I'm a little bit disappointed (in that sense), but also pleased with the team and by the way we played over the five days.
"I thought the bowlers came in and bowled beautifully, nobody dropped their heads. Just because a side gets 400 it doesn't necessary mean you've bowled badly.
"They batted well, all got stuck in and Lara played like Lara can. They've got pride in West Indian cricket, you expect them to fight and we were prepared for it.
"We are playing some good cricket; we've put in some good performances for nine months now. The general public perception and what people are saying to me is that they are enjoying watching England, enjoying a bit of fight, and some characters and young players coming in and doing well - like Trescothick and Vaughan.
"A bloke upstairs said to me 'I think we've turned the corner'. That might be going a little too far, but I think we're doing alright and we've got to look forward positively to the next two games.
As for his continuing personal struggle with the bat (following two more scratchy innings of 10 and 6* in this Test), Hussain was hoping that his much-anticipated return to form would come in Essex's next match against Worcestershire.
The English skipper has now made only 126 Test runs since his century against South Africa in Durban in December, and only 128 have come in first-class cricket in this rain-plagued season.
Whatever the case, Hussain certainly must be hoping that there is a significant turnaround by next week, when he returns to face the likes of Courtney Walsh and Curtley Ambrose in the vital Fourth Test at Headingley.
"There wasn't much to go on in this match. I was feeling alright but got a decent delivery in the first innings which hit the splice and today wasn't the easiest of conditions. Three lights were on, it was grizzly, the wicket was juicing up - and there was Ambrose and Walsh.
"But I don't feel at the best of my form, with the stop-start season, and a few first-class innings. I'm going to play at Kidderminster on Thursday and try to find something that either mentally, physically or technically is missing at the moment. I will try to find it, but I need time at the crease.
As for Hussain's rival leader, Jimmy Adams, he admitted to great pride in his team's fightback over the closing three days of the match.
"I'm very happy with the way we fought back after having a disappointing first two days. It was a real team performance, the bowlers clawed us back into the game and restricted England to a lead that was manageable.
"We had partnerships right down the line, a very good innings from Lara, everybody came right on the night. I was pleased with the fight that was shown. After our loss at Lord's that was very important: this has done us a lot of good.
"Brian's performance was very reassuring. He's always had a big-game mentality and this was a big game for us - he came through in a big way.
"England were definitely on top for two days, we had two good days after that, but the weather was the winner today."