Hussain's men embark on six-month pilgrimage

They are cricket's equivalent of the Pilgrim Fathers. A mere 380 years separates the start of their voyages into the unknown. Nasser Hussain and his men have, arguably, the more difficult of times ahead of them.

They are cricket's equivalent of the Pilgrim Fathers. A mere 380 years separates the start of their voyages into the unknown. Nasser Hussain and his men have, arguably, the more difficult of times ahead of them.

They have to deal with a three dimensional tour, strung out over almost six months, breaking off in the middle for Christmas and the New Year. The middle leg entails a visit to Pakistan, the first since 1987, while the final section is some tricky months in Sri Lanka.

Yesterday Hussain and his pioneers set out on the first leg of their voyage to Kenya and a potential hiding to nothing in the 11-nation International Cricket Council tournament in Nairobi. England open their programme in what is effectively a mini World Cup with a tie against Bangladesh next week.

After their poor showing in the real thing last year, when they suffered an ignominious exit from the World Cup, there is much for them to prove in the next fortnight or so; but given the history of their previous visit to Pakistan when Mike Gatting and the umpire Shakoor Rana had their infamous run-in - in a three-match series which England lost 1-0 - and also given that England are looking to demonstrate to their fans and the world that the glorious West Indian summer was no flash in the pan, the Sri Lanka leg will also be tough.

Back in 1620 the Mayflower took around 66 days to reach what is now the coast of Massachusetts, an unknown territory to the Pilgrim Fathers; yesterday England's eight-hour trip ended in virgin country.

Even Pakistan will be, only seven of the party have been there in a formal role, for the 1996 World Cup, and although Hussain captained a successful A tour there in 1995, a party which included two of this winter's Test squad, Craig White and Ian Salisbury, none has experienced the intensity of a top-drawer Test series in that cricket-mad country.

"Pakistan is a part of the world where cricket is very much a part of the culture," Hussain explained. "We have not been to Pakistan for 13 years, so this is going to be a new experience. For us it will be like a United States golfer going to St Andrews for the first time. We have to adapt and not moan. I think you have to enjoy the culture of the country you are in."

And not even the triumph over the West Indies counts for much as far as Hussain is concerned. "What happened this summer against the West Indies, apart from the confidence it will have given the players, will have no bearing on this tour.

"In South Africa last winter and at home last summer, fast bowling dominated. We have been playing a lot of swing and seam and this winter will be completely different against the spinners. But I am a firm believer that you become a better player by playing in different countries, and that is what we have to learn to do this winter."

And that is going to begin in Kenya. And Hussain, who claimed he has not picked up a bat since picking up a pair at The Oval in the final Test, admitted: "The tour has come around very quickly. I suppose we could have been in training camp for the next couple of weeks, but we will be in Nairobi, so let's get out there and play."

Rather like the Pilgrim Fathers in the 17th century, Hussain and his band are going to be severely tested at every stage over the next few months, whether they return enlightened and improved is entirely in their hands, or the lap of the gods.

* Allan Donald is to continue his Test career by signing a two-year contract with South Africa. Donald, 33, last played for South Africa in the fourth Test against England in Cape Town over eight months ago.

News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little