I want to end on a high, says Hussain

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The Independent Online

An emotional Nasser Hussain, England's match-winner against New Zealand at Lord's with his 14th Test hundred in his 96th appearance for his country, last night suggested that he is on the brink of retiring.

An emotional Nasser Hussain, England's match-winner against New Zealand at Lord's with his 14th Test hundred in his 96th appearance for his country, last night suggested that he is on the brink of retiring.

After the on-field drama of his hundred, preceded by his seemingly calamitous and cruel run-out of the debutant Andrew Strauss with the latter on the brink of a second century in the match and English cricket history, a misty-eyed Hussain gave the broadest of hints that he wants to end his career on this high.

Having acknowledged that performances in this Test posed problems for the selectors, the former England captain, who made his debut against the West Indies in the 1989-90 Caribbean tour, then confessed: "There are issues for me personally. I have to make some decisions regarding my future.

"The last thing I want to do is to hold anyone up. I only want to be in a side that wants me. I only want to play for a country that wants me. I don't want to hold any young lad up. I would hate that to happen to me.

"I will have to talk to people in my life, my father. It is an emotive decision to have to make. The coach, Duncan Fletcher, was in my hotel room last night. We had a glass of Chardonnay and a long conversation. He is a very important person in my life. I am talking about reaching a decision over the next 24, maybe 48 hours.

"I did not want to do this press conference, I just wanted to think about it. There is a possibility of retirement. This is not something I have just thought about now. I have been thinking it over since Barbados. You want to go out at the top. I wanted to think about this on my own, speak to my Dad, and speak to other people.

"That figure of 100 Tests that I wanted to reach, that was something that kept coming up. It was the same with the captaincy, that is not what I wanted. I've thought a lot about this. I want to end on a high. I have spoken to David Graveney, the chairman of selectors, and to Duncan. While the fans still want me, this is a great thing to sit back and remember in the years to come."

The confession did not end there, though. Hussain was man enough to admit that the muddle which robbed Strauss of his place in cricket lore - he would have become only the third player after Lawrence Rowe, for West Indies against New Zealand in the 1971-72 series, and latterly Yasir Hameed for Pakistan against Bangladesh, to have achieved the remarkable feat of scoring centuries in both innings of his debut match.

As it was, Strauss had to settle for scoring a half-century second time around. Hussain said: "Doing a [Geoff] Boycott and running out the local lad was not the ideal thing to do, especially when he was 17 runs away from his second hundred of the match. It put added pressure on me. Luckily I had a close mate, Graham Thorpe, who joined me out in the middle and he told me to stop whingeing about it and get on with the game."

Which he proceeded to do. Afterwards, though, he almost dismissed his own contribution, stressing instead the importance of the victory. "The main thing is that we went one up in a three-match series, which is a huge advantage. New Zealand are a quality side and they have been a pain in the backside for us."

He then admitted of his hundred: "It was incredible. To do it here, at Lord's, and the ovation I got from the crowd, to hear the noise they made, and get the pats on the back as I walked through the Long Room afterwards, it was amazing."

Hussain was not the only one who was in a dazed state, though. Strauss was still trying to come to terms with the fact that he had been selected in the first place, let alone achieved what he has.

He was reluctant to talk about the run-out. "There was a bit of indecision. It happens all the time in cricket. But it has been a crazy week for me, going back to Monday when I did not think I was in the team, to scoring the hundred on my home ground, then scoring a fifty and then winning the match. That tops it off. It has been the most unbelievable week of my life."

While he had no idea whether he would be in the team for the second Test at Headingley next week, the selectors indicated as much when Fletcher requested that Middlesex leave him out of today's important Championship match against Lancashire at Old Trafford.

The county were already resigned to losing their captain for the game anyway but, given his remarkable performances, perhaps they should extend their thinking to the rest of this series at least, but more probably the rest of the summer.

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