Cricket: India's illustrious predecessors bode well for Nasser

Cricket Diary: Stephen Brenkley
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NASSER HUSSAIN joins a long and honourable list of England captains who were born abroad. The new skipper was born in Madras on 28 March, 1968, and educated at Forest School, Snaresbrook and Durham University and is the 13th of the 72 men who have led the country in a Test match to have started life in a foreign land.

This is mostly to do with England's status as a colonial power and it is a custom which started life early in the Test cricket piece. The second man to be captain of England was Lord Harris, born in St Anne's, Trinidad, and later of Eton and Oxford.

Hussain's elevation puts captains born in India to the top of the list. He is in distinguished company for the other two were Douglas Jardine, born in Mulabar Hill, Bombay, educated at Winchester and Oxford (and died, incidentally, in Montreux, Switzerland, of tick fever); and Lord Cowdrey, who was born in Putulamala, Bangalore, and attended Tonbridge and Oxford.

The full list is: Cowdrey (27 matches); Jardine (15); Harris (four); Sir Pelham Warner (born Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, 10); Sir Timothy O'Brien (Dublin, Ireland, one); Freddie Fane (Curragh Camp, Ireland, four); Tony Greig (Queenstown, SA, 14); Allan Lamb, (Langebaanweg, SA, three); Sir George "Gubby" Allen (Sydney, Australia, 11); Freddie Brown (Lima, Peru, 15); Donald Carr (Wiesbaden, Germany, one); Ted Dexter (Milan, Italy, 30).

In addition, Adam Hollioake, who has led England in one-day internationals, was born in Melbourne. It is also possible, but only on the grounds of being strictly pernickety to append another three names. Cyril Walters (one match) was born in Bediniog, Wales, Tony Lewis (nine matches) in Swansea, and Mike Denness (19 matches) in Lanarkshire.

The heartening statistic is the one about Jardine and Cowdrey. Apart from O'Brien, who won his only Test, the two born in India, are the most successful of all captains born elsewhere than England. Jardine won nine and lost only one match giving him a 76.66 per cent record, Cowdrey won eight and lost four, giving him 57.4 per cent. Come on Nasser.

TALKING OF captains, it is only fair to spare a thought for the outgoing Alec Stewart (three wins, three draws from 12 matches, 37.5 per cent). Stewart was born in Merton, Surrey, the 11th from the county and in the bald terms of awarding two points for a win, one for a draw, the 10th least successful. He paid the penalty, of course, for losing the Ashes. He is in good company. Four other captains could be said to have carried the can after England messed up against Australia. The first was Arthur Jones, despite being ill for the first three matches of the 1907-08 tour and the last was Mike Denness, ditched in the face of the onslaught from Lillee and Thomson in 1975.

In between, there were two of the great names of the English game. Johnny Douglas won the Ashes in 1911-12 (he did have Sydney Barnes) but in 1921, with England 2-0 down, he was deprived of office. England lost 5-0. Percy Chapman was the Golden Boy of the game who won back the Ashes in 1926, kept them in 1928-29 (he did have Wally Hammond) and was summarily dropped in 1930 when they were slipping away again.

AS THE new England captain was announced at Lord's on Thursday a thought occurred. Sitting alongside Hussain were some significant men who have been assiduous servants of the game and have abundant knowledge of it.

However, none of them would contribute much in a game of show us your caps. Tim Lamb, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board, followed Billy Griffith, Douglas Carr and A C Smith in the post (though then it was the TCCB and they were called secretary). All of them played for England, albeit mustering a smidgen of games in all.

David Graveney, chairman of selectors, followed a long line of illustrious names from Lord Hawke to Ray Illingworth but the last not to have played for England was Harry Altham, who was chairman for a year in 1954. As coach, Duncan Fletcher succeeds Mickey Stewart, Keith Fletcher and David Lloyd, all of them England players. Between them, Lamb, Graveney and Fletcher have played not a single Test.

BOOK MARK

"I had a lot of good friends in the side over the years. When I became captain, all of them needed to be treated in a slightly different fashion without moving away from the team concept... Once I had seen the team announcement I could make some plans and think about a few ideas concerning the game, and some not necessarily associated with cricket." - Sound advice perhaps for Nasser Hussain, from Richie Benaud in Anything But... An Autobiography.

DON'T STOP THE CARNIVAL

STEPHEN FLEMING, New Zealand's captain, is one of 25 men to have led the Kiwis in a Test match (they did not start until 1929-30), was the most-travelled man in cricket last year according to Wisden Cricket Monthly's mileage chart last July (91,306 miles), but whose main complaint about the game, paradoxically, according to The Cricketer, is "the down time with travel and hotel rooms and time spent away from family and friends".

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