Hussain's pleasure mixed with regret at plight of old rivals

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The Independent Online

Nasser Hussain has been on the wrong end of some heavy beatings during his three previous tours of the Caribbean, but the former England captain is taking little satisfaction from the current plight of West Indian cricket. After losing a home series to their fiercest rivals for their first time in 36 years against, the West Indies are in turmoil.

Nasser Hussain has been on the wrong end of some heavy beatings during his three previous tours of the Caribbean, but the former England captain is taking little satisfaction from the current plight of West Indian cricket. After losing a home series to their fiercest rivals for their first time in 36 years against, the West Indies are in turmoil.

"I am a big fan of West Indies cricket," Hussain said. "It is a great place to play and, like India, cricket is in their blood. But I take no pleasure in seeing them at this low-point at the moment. We are not laughing at them and we don't feel like this is pay-back time. We just feel pride in what we have achieved and are glad that the pressure is on them and their captain for once.

"When I took over as captain and we lost to New Zealand in 1999 everyone was writing 'R I P English cricket' and now it is all on them. Everyone is asking what is wrong with their cricket but I do not look at that and say 'good'. I look at it and think 'we have been there' and this is what I said to Brian Lara when I went up to him after we scored the winning run in Barbados."

Despite the 5-0 hammerings and the broken bones that were being dished out to England in the 1980s the Caribbean has remained the players' favourite tour. The cricket here is exciting, raw and unpredictable. At times it is hard and uncompromising but this has not affected the excellent relationship which has existed between the players of both sides. This comes from the friendships which were built when the majority of the players who represented the West Indies also played county cricket.

The number of West Indian players employed by English counties has dropped considerably over the past five years and many in the Caribbean feel this is the principle reason for their decline. Playing cricket in England allowed West Indian players to develop their discipline and responsibility - two of the ingredients which are lacking in their cricket at the moment - to add to prodigious natural talent, and this allowed them to produce fantastic cricketers.

The reason for this change comes through the region's failing to produce cricketers of the quality required by an English county and the West Indian Cricket Board organising home fixtures in May and June. This predicament, and the performances of Michael Vaughan's side has allowed England to enjoy themselves both on and off the pitch.

"It has been an enjoyable tour because there has been a complete role-reversal," Hussain said. "Usually it us who have been fending off four fast bowlers but now it is their fellas. At tea on the first day Thorpey and I were talking as we came out after tea when the West Indies were on 150-3. We said that in the past we had been in this position and then Ambrose or Walsh would come along and blow us away. And on this occasion it was Freddie Flintoff who came on and blew them away for 220. This has been what we have put up with for the last 10 or 15 years."

"The last Test match was something special. Graham Thorpe's hundred, Matthew Hoggard's hat-trick , the venue, the crowd - Barbados has always been a special place for both teams. So to come here and win like that at their home is something special. They never used to lose here."

England's success, the prospect of 100 Test caps - Hussain is on 94 - and the fact he can play vital Test innings, even though some of them are painful to watch, will keep the 36 year-old playing for England as long as the selectors want him to.

"It gives me great pleasure to know that I had a role to play in us winning two Test matches here even if it was through a couple of dodgy fifties. If I had packed it all in last summer I would have missed out on this. And I want more. If you don't enjoy what has happened here during the last three Test matches there is no point playing Test cricket.

"There is very good feel about this side at the moment. What Vaughan and the others have done in a short space of time has been exceptional. The captain has won great respect from all the players and coaches. Not just through his batting ability or his captaincy but as a person. His tactics have been good and he has led the side very well. He has brought a calmness to the side that was missing under the last captain."

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