England did not deserve to win this one-day series against New Zealand. Their failure to raise their game to cope with the pressure in this crucial final match was epitomised by the batting of their captain, Nasser Hussain, who has deservedly won much praise for his leadership and indeed made his first 50 in 16 one-day internationals this winter.
But he has insisted on sticking to the No 3 position in the batting order, a place for which his style of play is not suited. Hussain is not a batsman who finds it easy to come in and score at a run a ball while rotating the strike. But in this form of the game that is what a No 3 must do. The captain either struggles and scores a run every two balls or goes for broke, scores 35 or thereabouts in quick time and then gets himself out.
In this game he was unable to score at the rate he wanted and when his leading batsman, Graham Thorpe, came to the crease, the Surrey man had to try and get on with it before he was ready and paid the penalty. Thorpe was a victim of Hussain's inactivity.
Of course, he will have been pleased to reach fifty. Nevertheless, the manner of his dismissal told of an insecurity a batsman of his class and standing should not possess. Facing Daryl Tuffey, a stalwart performer as a fast bowler but no world-beater, Hussain saw two powerful cuts go straight to fielders. When a batsman plays good strokes for no reward it tightens the pressure, yet such an experienced player as Hussain should have been immune to that.
But it was not so. The next ball, which was around about the off stump, he swung furiously to leg and picked out Chris Cairns standing on the deep square leg boundary. It was an easy catch born of the frustration of a batsman who is not suited to the position he obstinately insists on retaining. Coach Duncan Fletcher presumably acquiesces to his captain's wishes about the position in which he bats, although the logic – is any – is cock-eyed.Reuse content