Sad that Nasser's good work comes to a stop so suddenly

At the end of his statement Hussain received a standing ovation from the British pressmen to mark their gratitude for four years of strong words, sincere thoughts and a stream of quotable quotes.


July 28. Why is Nasser Hussain going out to bat? Why doesn't he leave the batting line-up alone? He is in danger of getting out cheaply again and that will be four poor Test scores in a row and who knows what will happen! My mobile rings. "They say," whispers my favourite Deep Throat, "that Hussain is about to quit." So that explains it all. Hussain wants to play his last innings, say farewell to the crowd, give one final salute to his enemies in the television commentary box and then leave. But no. It appears that Mark Butcher has a migraine so Hussain simply moves up a place in the batting order. We can discount that resignation rumour. But why are there two Press conferences suddenly? And why does another of my informants suggest that there will be an announcement "that is not concerned with team news." We do not know at this stage that in the pavilion — watched by the television cameras — the selectors are trying to persuade Hussain to stay on as captain at least until the end of the Lord's Test. But he does not even want to play at Lord's. Eventually he agrees. He will play and support Michael Vaughan in what is bound to be a difficult time. Ten minutes before the end I hear the first suggestion that Darren Gough is also thinking of stepping aside. Whatever next? Rumours and Press boxes go hand in hand but after all these years I cannot pick the true from the false on this occasion. Thegame is called off early and the gang troop across to the players' dining room to hear Hussain tell it the way it is, and I decide for the second week in a row that I will turn my diary into a tribute.


July 29. Geoff Boycott is very critical of Hussain's decision. "I hope he does not regret his decision," he says. On the other hand Wasim Akram retired himself, calls it a "very difficult decision but in making it Hussain shows what a great leader he is." Nothing became him like the manner of his leaving, someone once says. Nasser also obeys another precept: "Wait not upon the order of thy going, but go." Now, I am afraid, he must also put into operation his original plan: to step down from all Test cricket. He cannot continue to be in Vaughan's eyeline for five days at a time and eventually he will have to retire. He has never been the sort of character who finds it easy to accept someone else's orders and now that he has a spell in charge he will find it even more trying.

July 30. Hussain's life begins in Madras 35 years ago; but is he an Asian? His father Joe who marries an English girl and brings little Nasser to Essex when he is five says he thinks of him as an English cricketer and urges all young Asians living in Britain to support England. His south-eastern accent, his schooling, his background and his manner are all English and those Asians questioned seem unsure whether to regard him as an iconic figure. I notice that when were are in Pakistan a couple of years ago there are great numbers of the locals who shout "You are one of us, Nasser" and that Nasser looks uncomfortable. But the days may not be far off when most of the England team may be Asian in background. Joe Hussain says he has several potential first class players from Indian and Pakistan backgrounds at his school and there are already half a dozen knocking on the door in the county game. Few of Nasser's habits and mannerisms are Asian. Off the field he is quiet, always ready for a chuckle, happy in the company of anyone from the cricket world, pleased to be in the company of reporters and adept with a computer or his texting mobile. On the field he is a different man: rough and abrasive when he sees the need, emotional when he is faced with a problem, stubborn when life turns against him. He is more likely than Alec Stewart to find a place in the commentary box or the Press box but if the England and Wales Cricket Board officials know their man they have the chance to push him towards an administrative role rather than letting him spend the rest of his days commentating.

July 31. One of the tabloid papers says that Nasser Hussain wants to drop out of all cricket and that a place in the television gantry awaits. How do they know this? One of their senior sports desk men goes to school with Hussain, maintains the friendship right through their careers, still lives near him, plays a part in signing him to write for another newspaper and then moves to his present post where he keeps up the work that must make him a very popular figure in his new office. But how will he operate when Hussain retires? Watch this space. There is another writer, so friendly with Alec Stewart that he appears in his This Is Your Life television programme who must also be looking for new contacts now that Stewart is stepping to one side.

August 1. There is one great distinction that comes to Nasser Hussain that I promise will come to few other cricketers. In Sydney last January the Australian press corps present him with a beautifully-illustrated book showing their country at its best as a mark of their respect and affection for a man who never gives up, never loses his cool in public and is always ready to meet them. This week at the end of his statement Hussain receives a standing ovation from the British pressmen to mark their gratitude for four years of strong words, sincere thoughts and a stream of quotable quotes. I cannot recall any other captain on either side who was so well loved by the travelling pressmen and I cannot imagine anyone who will be more popular with these difficult characters. Hussain shows that his bark is not gone even if he feels he is no longer entitled to bite his own players. Graeme Smith shouts at James Anderson after the fast bowler shies the ball at the stumps, narrowly missing Gary Kirsten. The words are hardly out of his mouth when Hussain, 25 yards away in the covers, inquires who he thinks he is, and will he kindly shut up. Not a word from his captain Michael Vaughan at mid-off. That is no discredit to Vaughan but it is a sign of the times ahead; quieter, less abrasive and more politically correct.

August 2. Seven days is a long time in politics, says Harold Wilson, the British Prime Minister in the 1960s and 1970s and that is certainly true of the last seven days in the England Test side. Gone: their wicket-keeper for the last dozen years, their captain for the past four years to add to Andrew Caddick, now out of cricket until at least next summer and possibly Darren Gough who denies an imminent retirement unconvincingly in the paper that pays him to write and stay in the game. This is more than a third of a side, going and unlikely to return. But it must be a huge encouragement to young cricketers all over the country who see that the way into the Test team is no longer blocked.

August 3. Where better to look for an analysis of Hussain's departure than from the man himself and his predecessor Mike Atherton. Hussain says in a column which, like Atherton, he writes himself, that if England had lost at Edgbaston he will carry on as captain. But when he begins to believe that Vaughan is the right successor and knowing how tired he feels he decides to quit During the first day at Edgbaston, he says, "I did not captain the team in the way Nasser Hussain has always done. I was not aggressive. I did not set unusual fields. I did not think up new theories." He ends by saying: "I did give my best to the England captaincy for four years." Sad that his good work comes to a stop so suddenly and with so little time to appreciate his farewell.