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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Nasser Hussain, one of England's greatest captains, was born

England v New Zealand npower First Test - Lord's - 24/5/04 England's Nasser Hussain celebrates reaching his century
©Reuters
 

March 28, 1968 - Having proved his mettle as the sharpest cricketing brain among England captains since Mike Brearley, Nasser Hussain won 17 and lost 15 games as Test captain while his record in ODIs was 28/27.

 

One of England's most successful captains, Nasser Hussain's success was as much a reason of his father's push as his own ability. Hussain, who regards his father as “the single most important influence on my cricket”, was born in Madras (now Chennai) to an Indian father, Jawad (Joe), and English mother, Shireen. 

 

After he spent the first seven years of his life in India, an important part of which included his earliest cricketing formations at the Chepauk cricket stadium, Hussain’s family moved to England. 

 

It is fascinating that Hussain actually started his cricketing career as a leg spinner. But, his height suddenly shot up, an occurrence not uncommon in adolescence, as Hussain lost the plot with the ball. Being a decent bat, when the youngster scored a hundred in one of his games is when his father decided that he should concentrate on batting.

 

Record as captain: 45 Tests, 2487 runs at 36.04, five hundreds, HS 155

Post-resignation: 12 Tests, 837 runs at 39.85, two hundreds, HS 116

 

The talent was obviously there and the persistence bore fruit but it was not until 1996 that he established himself in the England side, on the back of an eye-catching stint as England A captain in Pakistan the previous winter. A year later came that famous 207 against Australia, and Hussain scored heights thereafter.

 

Taking over from Alec Stewart in July 1999, Hussain proved his mettle as the sharpest cricketing brain among England captains since Mike Brearley. His 5,764 Test runs in 96 matches at 37.19 for the Three Lions may not seem extraordinary but it was his ingenious fields, stamp over the team and the respect of his teammates that brought England considerable success under his leadership. 

 

The highlight of Hussain's captaincy career was when England won four Test series in a row under him, for the first time since Brearley. The England Test team also climbed to the third place in the ICC Test Championship table under him after being ninth and last in the Wisden World Championship in September 1999. 

 

Although crictics were never really baying for his blood through his career, there were alarm bells when England suffered consecutive 1-4 Ashes defeats in 2001 and 2002-03.

 

Hussain gave up ODI captaincy after a disappointing performance by England in the 2003 World Cup, and resigned from the Test captaincy during the series against South Afrcia later in the summer explaining that he had "grown tired" of the role.

 

Overall, he won 17 and lost 15 games as Test captain while his record in ODIs was 28/27

 

Asked during an interview with the Daily Mail later whether he was disappointed on missing out on a 100 Test caps (he retired with 96), Hussain said, “Not as disappointed as some people in the media make out…Most important thing is not out staying your welcome, not just plodding along, taking the money but also not leaving too early. And I don’t think I did either.”

 

Hussain went on to enjoy a brief but fruitful spell as England's elder statesman. He only played a further 12 Tests until he retired but went out with a bang, scoring his runs at a better average than he did overall. His century at Trent Bridge was vital in squaring the series against South Africa. He also played a key role in England's first win in the Caribbean in 36 years.

 

Few are fortunate enough to bid goodbye to the game in the manner that Hussain did.

 

By 2004, England's elder statesman had been looking increasingly out of place in a young and dynamic new dressing-room. In the first Test of the 2004 summer at Lord's against New Zealand, as he brought up what would be his final Test century, he announced his retirement three days later.

 

After retiring, Hussain turned his attention to commentating, where he continues to wow viewers with his sharp understanding of the game. You can even argue that he turned out to be a better commentator than the batsman he was, but we'll leave that up to you. 

 

To one of England's greatest captains, Happy 52nd.

 

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