Nasser Hussain certainly didn't lose the dressing-room - but maybe he didn't understand it any more

Thursday was a bad day for English cricket: 398 for 1 wasn't great, but now we know the real price. It was the straw that broke the camel's back. Yet for all Nasser Hussain's protestations of weariness, you have to feel that there is more to his resignation than meets the eye.

Only two months ago he was talking openly about his career goals, chief among them passing Peter May's record of 20 Test wins as England captain. (Hussain has 17.) So, what's changed? Hussain says he is tired. He looks tired - but then he has for most of his reign. It is one of his strengths that he always overcame it. To survive all the trials of last winter and to go now is more than a little strange.

There are two ways of viewing Hussain's abdication. The first is that he was his own man to the last, courageously biting the bullet rather than hanging on like the rabid old dictator he has been increasingly portrayed as. The other is that to leave the job at this time, in this way, is thoroughly out of character. Quitting three days before a big game is the sort of thing Kevin Keegan does, not Nasser Hussain. At least Hussain left England with Michael Vaughan and not Howard Wilkinson.

Unlike Keegan, Hussain certainly didn't lose the dressing-room - Darren Gough summed up the mood when he said he would go through a brick wall for Hussain - but maybe he didn't understand it any more. All this talk of PlayStations and red streaks, of sexed-up photoshoots and lads' mags - maybe he felt out of place. When even Ashley Giles gets highlights, you know there is revolution in the air.

More likely, it will have nagged that, for the first time, he had lost the respect of some of the media. There has been the whiff of a burgeoning agenda, and there is no doubt that attitudes to Hussain have hardened in the past few months, particularly since England's zesty showing under Vaughan.

Hussain, as a result, was depicted by the press as antiquated, a dinosaur. How quickly they forget. In terms of sustained consistency of performance, England are playing as well as at any time for 20 years. Increasingly over the past six months Hussain has pointed out the achievements England have made in his reign - as well as his own form over the last few series. It was nagging at him that his work had not been properly acknowledged, that he and Duncan Fletcher were not getting the respect they deserved.

His dismissal in the first innings, padding up to Shaun Pollock, was a case in point. Yes it was a poor leave. Yes it wasn't the first time he'd gone that way in a big Edgbaston Test. But the fact remains that Hussain should not have been given out: the ball was going over the top and wide of the stumps, but almost universally, the press ignored that. Et tu, Brute?

The fact remains that Hussain is still the best captain in England. When he announced his retirement from one-day internationals, he said he still thought England were a better side when he captained them. Has that really changed? England looked like they enjoyed the NatWest Series, sure, but was Vaughan's captaincy really that good?

Hussain also said the split captaincy caused him problems. This is a rare deviation from his adherence to all things Australian. There, it has worked perfectly. For Vaughan read Ricky Ponting, the easy-going star batsman with the swivel-pull to die for; for Hussain read Steve Waugh, the hard-nosed grinder, sweating every last drop from himself and his team. With Hussain, it has always been about the team. Finally he has made a decision with himself in mind - but his team will be a hell of a lot poorer for it.