Cricket: Hussain stakes England claim

India 320-8 dec & 223-6 dec Essex 269-5 dec & 207-6 Match drawn
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The Independent Online
Nasser Hussain dropped a late hint for inclusion in England's Test squad, which is named at the weekend, by producing his best form of the season. His 85 against India at Chelmsford was the highlight of the final day, which ended with Essex settling for a draw on 207 for 6 in pursuit of a target of 275 in 51 overs.

While Hussain was at the crease, Essex always nursed hopes of collecting the pounds 7,500 cheque on offer by the sponsors Tetley for any county beating the tourists. But once he was sixth out, with 79 still required from 10 overs, the shutters were put up by Ashley Cowan and Paul Grayson.

Hussain, nimble of foot and quick to seize upon any loose delivery, eventually fell when he tried to sweep once too often against the leg-spinner Narendra Hirwani and was bowled.

His 109-ball effort included nine fours but whether it will be good enough to put him in line for a Test recall, after an absence of three years, remains to be seen. But at least Hussain can content himself with the knowledge that his latest effort was his highest of the summer to date, and his most convincing.

Earlier, India carried their second innings to 223 for 6 before declaring, the opener Ajay Jadeja leading the way with nine fours and three sixes in a highly entertaining 87. He was to become a victim of the left-arm spinner John Childs, the veteran 44-year-old finishing with 4 for 99.

Meanwhile, Navjot Sidhu, who became the first Indian cricketer to walk out of a touring team in 64 years of Test cricket, has returned to New Delhi from England.

"I'd had enough and couldn't take any more," Sidhu told reporters. "I'm sorry but I can't say anything more at this stage. I'll issue a public statement after talking to the cricket board chief."

Sidhu, 32, quit the tour of England on Monday and announced his immediate retirement from Test cricket after he was dropped from the side for the third one-day international, which India lost by four wickets at Old Trafford.

Lala Amarnath, a former Indian Test captain, demanded an inquiry into the events leading to Sidhu's walkout. Amarnath said the incident needed to be investigated by an independent authority.