Biography of Nasser Hussain

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Indian Cricketer  Nasser Hussain Biography

Nasser Hussain OBE (born 28 March 1968, Madras, India) is a former Essex and England cricketer. He was born of an Indian Muslim father, Jawad (also known as “Joe”), and mother Patricia, who changed her name to Shireen on conversion to Islam. He was the first Muslim captain of England and also was first to be of mixed Indian and English descent.

Beginning his career in a strong Essex side in the late 1980s, he was an outstanding fielder and a stylish but inconsistent batsman. In first-class cricket from 1987 to 2004 Nasser scored 20,698 runs in 334 matches at an average of 42.06, including 52 centuries. A pugnacious right-handed batsman, Hussain’s highest Test score was 207, scored in the first Test of the 1997 Ashes at Edgbaston.

Hussain is regarded as one of the best England Test Cricket Captains of the era for his part in transforming the side from a habitually under-performing team to one of achievement. Simon Barnes of The Times wrote that “Hussain is the most significant cricketer to have played for England since the war and perhaps the finest captain to hold the office.”

Nasser Hussain Early years

Hussain was educated at Forest School, Walthamstow, and then received a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Durham.

As a child, Nasser’s first experiences of cricket were family visits to Chepauk, where his elder brothers Mehriyar (Mel) and Abbas used to bat on the outfield while he chased after the ball.
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Jawad Hussain moved with his family to England in 1975, and later took charge of the indoor cricket school in Ilford where Nasser used to bowl for hours on end at his elder brothers, and not just because he was the youngest: he was a naturally talented leg-spin bowler. With his talent starting to show, at just eight years old, Nasser was selected to play for the Essex Under-11s, and at 12 years old he was the youngest to play for Essex Under-15s.

At the age of 14 Hussain was selected to play for England Schools where he first came into contact with his friend and future England colleague Mike Atherton. Born five days apart, Hussain and Mike Atherton soon found their careers progressing in parallel as they captained, batted and bowled legspin for England age-group teams.

As well as Atherton, who was considered the “Golden Boy” of the North at the time, Hussain played with and against others such as Mark Ramprakash, Graham Thorpe and Trevor Ward.  But at the age of 15, and captain of England Schools, Hussain suddenly lost his ability to bowl.

In the off season Hussain “grew a foot in height in the winter” and the trajectory of his bowling was therefore altered. He recounts “I went from bowling out Graham Gooch in the indoor school with everyone watching, to hitting the roof of the net or bowling triple-bouncers to deadly silence.”

Hussain’s father initially refused to accept that his son couldn’t bowl to the previous high standards and continued to push him into bowling, while Hussain, full of frustration at his sudden loss of ability felt he was letting his father down.

For a while he dropped behind his contemporaries; boys like Atherton, Ramprakash and Martin Bicknell were beginning to receive professional county contracts while Hussain was missing out on representative games and England tours. So Hussain took the decision to make himself a batsman.

Luckily he was still captain of Essex under-16s and so moved himself up the order to get more runs and to bowl less. His determination paid off and his batting progressed, in that year he became the first boy at Forest to score 1000 runs in a season since 1901.

Hussain himself admits that batting never came as naturally to him as leg-spin bowling. Vestiges of this manufacturing process remain in his technique: he bats with little left elbow and plenty of bottom hand, and backs up with the bat in his right hand.

Test cricket

Hussain’s Test cricket debut in 1990 was a momentous game for England. Not only was it the first game for two future England captains, Hussain and his long standing team-mate Alec Stewart, but England won by nine wickets, their first victory against West Indies in sixteen years and 30 Tests. When it ended, just before lunch on the final day, the game’s established order had been so dramatically overturned that even those within the England party were scarcely able to absorb the fact.

However England went on to lose the series 2-1 and despite the heady first test, Hussain found himself the victim of the selection policy, that of high churn and inconsistency, and was subsequently not picked for the next three years. Hussain was also regarded as a bit of a hot-head, and it was argued that his fiery temper (which gained him so much in his latter career) in the early days briefly jeopardised his prospects of an international career.

However at Essex Hussain continued to score runs and impress his County colleague and England Captain Graham Gooch enough to have a Test reprieve. So at the 3rd Ashes Test of 1993, Hussain joined an England team that had four debutants, the most notable was Graham Thorpe, one of Hussain’s closest allies and team-mates, who scored a century on debut.

There were also four Essex players in the team. Hussain scored 71 and 47 not out, which was enough to see him selected for the rest of the series. It was however not enough to secure his place for the subsequent winter tour, nor for that matter the next three years of Test matches as the selectors once again decided to look elsewhere.

Hussain managed to cement his place in the Test side when he was picked again for the Test series against India in the summer of 1996. The number 3 batting position had been troublesome for England for some time. England had tried all manner of combinations at No. 3, from the left-field Jason Gallian to the veteran Robin Smith, via the temperamentally suspect pairing of Graeme Hick and Mark Ramprakash. ”

A lot is made of your batting position,” Hussain recalled to Cricinfo, “but I always felt, and I did back then when David Lloyd rang me up and asked me to bat No. 3, that if you’re good enough to be playing Test cricket, you should be good enough to move from No.5 to No.3”.
Hussain was given the berth and didn’t disappoint by scoring 128 in the first innings. Hussain was awarded Man of The Match and with another century in the last Test that summer was awarded Man of the Series.

Test captain
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Hussain was the captain of the England team for 45 Test matches from 1999 to 2003; only Michael Atherton and Michael Vaughan have captained England in more matches. He also has the fourth most Test victories as England captain, with 17, behind only Vaughan (26), Peter May (20) and Mike Brearley (18). His percentage of Tests won was higher than any of the previous five captains, since Bob Willis.

Taking over from Alec Stewart in July 1999, Hussain became Test captain when English cricket was at a low point, and his first series in charge saw England lose to New Zealand at home, after which he was booed by the England fans as he and his team stood on the pavilion balcony.

However, in 2000 he led England to a 3-1 victory over the West Indies at home, and in that winter, the England team beat both Pakistan and Sri Lanka away. Under the new regime, England won four Test series in a row for the first time since Brearley, and rose to third place in the ICC Test Championship table when it was launched, after being ninth and last in the prototype Wisden World Championship in September 1999.

Hussain’s style of captaincy was a reflection of his personality, never static, always full of energy and ideas. He was known to make four field-changes in one over in a Test match, searching for the solution, trying to make up for the lack of variety among his attack of mostly right-arm seamers with his own imaginative placements.

His batting while captain veered from one extreme to another, from the heights of England’s tour to South Africa to a worse run than even Brearley knew.

Yet so widespread was the recognition of Hussain’s merit as captain that his place was never questioned, unlike Brearley’s. Nor were there many calls for his head despite consecutive Ashes drubbings in 2001 and 2002-03. Hussain established himself as the best and – not coincidentally – the most articulate England captain since Mike Brearley.

Hussain was captain of both the Test and One Day International England teams until after the 2003 Cricket World Cup, when England failed to make the second round after boycotting the match against Zimbabwe in Harare, citing security concerns.

But as he stated in his autobiography Playing With Fire, the whole Zimbabwe question and the responsibility left to the captain on making a decision whether to play against a country whose cricket team was politically run, on behalf of the young English and the ECB, was a question that “kept him awake at night”.

Immediately after the 2003 Cricket World Cup, after coming under heavy criticism, he stepped down as one-day captain, passing on the reins to Michael Vaughan. Later in 2003, Hussain announced his retirement as Test captain after England had been on the receiving end of Graeme Smith’s 277 but had narrowly clung on for a draw in the first Test against South Africa, again being replaced by Vaughan.

Vaughan’s captaincy career would subsequently echo Hussain’s: Vaughan resigned the one-day captaincy after a poor showing at the 2007 Cricket World Cup and subsequently resigned the Test captaincy after a series loss, which was instigated by Graeme Smith’s batting.

Hussain continued as a batsman in the Test team until May 2004; in a symbolic changing of the guard, Hussain’s final Test, against New Zealand at Lord’s, was Andrew Strauss’ debut Test. Strauss scored 112 and 83, and Hussain scored 34 and 103 not out; although Hussain ran Strauss out in the second innings, he had the honour of hitting the winning runs. Satisfied with his replacement, Hussain announced his immediate retirement from international and first-class cricket on 27 May 2004.

Nasser Hussain  father, Jawad “Joe” Hussain, and brother, Mehriyar Hussain, have both played first-class cricket, for Tamil Nadu and Worcestershire, respectively.

One Day Internationals

Hussain played 88 One Day internationals for England with an average of 30.2, making his debut against Pakistan in October 1989 where he scored 2. Similarly to his Test career and the selection policy that blighted the early 1990s in English International Cricket, his ODI career was one of false starts insomuch as after his second ODI he had to wait a further four years for a re-selection.

Hussain only became a regular in the ODI team by the Zimbabwe series of 1996 and 1997 where by that point he was the England Test captain. From then he went on to score 16 fifties and a single century which was against India at Lords in 2002. Hussain captained his country in 56 ODIs and played in 9 World Cup games, he resigned as captain immediately after the 2003 World Cup.

Hussain’s highest score of 115 was perhaps also the most memorable One Day International he appeared. Described by BBC correspondent Jonathan Agnew as “the most exciting one-day international” he had ever seen, India overhauled England’s 326 at Lords, their highest score for ten years, to win with 3 balls to spare in the Summer of 2002.

For some time before the game, Hussain’s position in the ODI team and his insistence of batting at number three had been repeatedly questioned by the press, most notably Sky Sports commentators, and future colleagues, Ian Botham and Bob Willis.

Hussain responded to those critics with a typically belligerent innings, and along with the faster scoring Marcus Trescothick added 185 off just 167 balls. But after reaching three figures Hussain gestured wildly to the press box, in defiance of the critics who had questioned his decision to bat at number three, by pointing to the number 3 on his back and raising three fingers to the media box and the ex-professionals who frequented it.

Despite the century and the gesture it was felt some members of the media, that the slow innings proved their points of criticisms, some even stated that “Captain Angry” had made a rod for his own back.

Post-Playing Career

Since his retirement, he has taken up a career as a television commentator for Sky Sports.

Hussain has worked at New Hall School in Chelmsford as their cricket professional.

Nasser Hussain  also worked in a Bollywood movie Patiala House in which he played himself.

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