Hussain and Foster are reprimanded by referee

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The Independent Online

James Foster and Nasser Hussain have been severely reprimanded by the match referee for their contretemps with Andy Flower during England's victory over Zimbabwe in Harare on Sunday. Colonel Naushad Ali also issued a similar reprimand to Flower and warned all three players as to their future conduct. He said he will be observing them in the final two matches of the one-day series.

Foster, Hussain and Flower can perhaps count themselves fortunate that Colonel Ali did not impose more serious penalties. The match referee demonstrated last week with the way he publicly doubted the action of the Sussex fast bowler James Kirtley that he was prepared to court headlines and, bearing in mind the unseemly nature of the two confrontations involving the players, he might easily have fined or even banned them.

Flower's innings of 142 not out was the joint highest by a Zimbabwean in one-day international cricket ­ his brother, Grant, and Dave Houghton have recorded the same score ­ but it was not sufficient to stop England winning by four wickets and taking a 3-0 lead in the five-match series. But Flower's performance was marred by two incidents which provoked angry exchanges with Foster and Hussain.

When Flower had scored 51, Foster claimed a catch behind off the medium-pace bowling of Paul Collingwood. Batsman and wicketkeeper exchanged words and Hussain, fielding at midwicket and apparently eager to support his young colleague, launched a string of expletives at the former Zimbabwe captain.

Later, with Flower one run short of his century, Foster again appealed for a catch off Collingwood. Flower was apparently so incensed by something Foster said that he thrust his head towards his 21-year-old opponent ­ and the peak of his helmet finished only an inch short of Foster's forehead.

Hussain was charged under rule one of the ICC Code of Conduct, which says: "The captains are responsible at all times for ensuring that play is conducted in the spirit of the game as well as within the laws of cricket." The match referee Colonel Ali charged all three players under the violation of rule two, which reads: "Players and/or team officials shall at no time engage in conduct unbecoming to their status which could bring them or the game of cricket into disrepute." The Code of Conduct prohibits any member of the England management from passing comment on Colonel Ali's judgement, but there was no indication they disapproved of the behaviour of Hussain or Foster.

This is the second time Hussain has been in trouble as England captain. During the 1999 home series against New Zealand, he was fined 15 per cent of his match fee for infringing a logo regulation and, last winter, received a severe reprimand after being given out lbw in a one-day international against Pakistan in Rawalpindi. Before that, Mike Atherton was the last England captain to attract the attention of the ICC. Atherton was found guilty of not keeping his players under control after Chris Lewis sent Craig McDermott on his way with a hand signal during England's victory over Australia in the Adelaide Test.

Hussain twinged his left calf while fielding at Harare Sports Club on Sunday, but expects to be fit for the matches tomorrow and on Saturday. The team flew to Bulawayo last night and the physiotherapist, Dean Conway, said: "We have three injury concerns ­ Nasser's calf problem and Ben Hollioake and Graham Thorpe, who have both got thigh strains.

All three players have undergone treatment and should be available for practice tomorrow. I'm optimistic they will be fit for the next game." If Hussain does not recover in time, the Somerset batsman Marcus Trescothick would be likely to take over the captaincy.

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