September 5, 2000

Hussain determined to solve batting problems

Staff & Agencies

Fresh from England's first Test series win over West Indies for 31 years, Nasser Hussain has promised to improve his own batting form before this winter's tours to Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

Hussain's captaincy success has been diluted by his inability to contribute runs to the team's success.

His total stands at just 148 runs from 13 test innings at an average of 12.33 with a top score of just 25.

Hussain is determined sort out his batting problems, and contribute both as a player and a captain this winter.

``Something drastic has to be done, I'm quite keen to do this job well and hopefully got past the stage of not worrying about my own game,'' he explained.

``I've got the balance slightly wrong at the time and I'm going to have to make sure my batting comes first and then the team -- in the later months it's been the other way round.

``My form has got me very down, I've just got to get the balance right between captaincy and batting. In the last couple of months, I've thrown myself completely into thinking every minute about beating the West Indies and I've thought about nothing else.''

Hussain has insisted on putting on a brave face to the team, as the tension built towards the end of the Wisden Trophy series.

``For the last couple of months, although I haven't shown it I've been overly tense inwardly, and it rubs off on your batting,'' he said. ``I found no fluency this summer.

``You've got to remember that 10 players are looking at you, you've outwardly got to keep your calm.

``Selection has been so difficult, coming to The Oval and not playing a spinner is a gamble. It's been mentally draining summer, but that goes with the territory.''

He added: ``It's just drained out of me. I felt it would be nice for this team to break that 31-year record and I haven't thought about anything else for the last couple of months.

``I know that sounds pretty sad. On a Monday morning in September it's still dragging on, it does wear on you a little bit.

``It makes me feel immensely proud, holding that trophy up in front of all those supporters. I'm proud of the team, they can be very proud of the 2000 season they've put in.

``The wheels might come off in the winter, we might have been poor before, but they can be proud of what they've achieved.''

Hussain can look forward to a holiday before doing some work on his batting, and he knows the team are right behind him. England fast bowler Darren Gough summed up the feelings of many of his teammates.

``He's magnificent,'' claimed Gough. ``He is proud to represent his country and he is a proud captain.

``He wants everybody to do well and for as long as I've played cricket going back to being a schoolboy he is by far the best captain I've ever played under.

``He falls out with you one minute and the next second he's your best mate, he doesn't hold any grudges and to me he's a top bloke and I hope he just keeps going and going and going and I hope he gets his form back with the bat.''

Gough added: ``I can put my feet up for a while knowing we've done a great job and beaten the West Indies. It was a great day to be at The Oval and everybody expected us to win, but there is always that doubt.

``You are only as good as your last game, and at the moment we are very good, we've beaten the West Indies for the first time in a long, long time, but we had a few butterflies.''