Campbell blast over Hussain's 'bad manners'

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The Independent Online

Five years on and it appears relations between Zimbabwe and England remain as strained as ever. First Sunday's crabby match in Harare; now the Zimbabwe batsman Alistair Campbell has offered a withering broadside at Nasser Hussain. Campbell is angry at the England captain's failure to shake his opponents' hands on the field after he hit the six which completed a four-wicket victory.

Campbell was Zimbabwe's captain when England made their ill-tempered first senior tour here in 1996 and famously accused the visitors of having a "superiority complex". As he prepares to lead Zimbabwe again in the fourth one-day international because of injury to Heath Streak, Campbell's animosity towards England is undiluted.

The left-handed opening batsman said: "The thing that really peeved most of our team was the way Hussain ran off the field without even shaking anybody's hand. I've never seen that happen in 170 one-day internationals. So, after I walked off, I couldn't be bothered to shake the hands of the England players. I just felt like saying, 'As soon as your captain can learn to become a sportsman, then maybe I will as well'."

Hussain punched the air in celebration and hastened to the pavilion, where he waited at the top of the steps to shake the Zimbabwe players' hands. It was there that Campbell declined the chance to shake hands and instead disappeared into the dressing-room.

Hussain, who is unlikely to play today because he has not fully recovered from the calf strain he sustained on Sunday, believed he acted within the spirit of the game.

Campbell says the off-field rapport between the teams is virtually non-existent. He explained: "At airports and hotels, you normally see teams integrating and talking, but there's been none of that.

"There's always some niggle in a series with England. Something starts off and it escalates from there. I have no problem with the incidents between Andy Flower and James Foster. I'd like some of our guys to show the same aggression as Foster. I have no problem with heat of the moment stuff. But then you shake hands at the end and have a beer.

"Maybe people have a misconception of how Australia play. They are hard on the field, but we get on very well with them. They come into our room after play for a few beers and talk about cricket. That's not happened with England. I believe it's back to '96 and I think that superiority complex thing still exists."

Zimbabwe have lost 10 successive one-day matches and Campbell fears for the future of cricket in the country. He says conflicts with the Zimbabwe Cricket Union, particularly over the quota system which demands a black presence in the team, has damaged morale. Campbell added: "It's been an uphill struggle and the enquiry into racism has stirred up a hornets' nest. Everybody wants to see the best side playing on merit at international level.

"That hasn't always been the case and it's caused consternation within the team and with the public. The very fabric that is the Zimbabwe team has been torn apart. We've been walking on the field and not really wanting to be there."

Now England have captured a series-winning 3-0 lead, they are likely to experiment in the remaining two matches. The three yet to appear – Owais Shah, Paul Grayson and Chris Silverwood – will play at least once.

* Alf Gover, the oldest surviving Test player, has died at a nursing home near to the cricket school in London where he coached for more than 40 years. He was 93.

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