James Lawton: Hussain serves up a hot but petty little dish

Sunday 17 November 2013 05:45

Ian Botham was known to wave his bat derisively at the press box from time to time, and Seb Coe – described as England's Lord Byron of the track by the late Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray when he sped to gold in the 1500 metres at the 1984 Olympics – treated the hacks who had written him off with a particularly biting gesture of scorn.

But neither of them made quite the meal of it produced by Nasser Hussain at Lord's, after scoring a century which he plainly believed had devastated those critics who argued that he should not bat at No 3 in one-day internationals. Hussain took his revenge hot, and the result was a petty little dish indeed.

He has done a good job as captain and is a ferociously competitive cricketer. But he might consider the value of taking himself a little less seriously.

His post-game suggestion that the Indians, who celebrated their glorious victory with a joy which brilliantly demolished the growing belief that professional sportsman increasingly play only for themselves, had operated "out of their skins" also hinted that there was something a touch freakish about their victory. It was, you had to fear, shades of another English reaction to a result touched by magic, Ronaldinho's stunning free-kick which left David Seaman so nonplussed in the World Cup quarter-final. "A fluke," said England.

There is no need to grovel in defeat, but a touch of grace is never misplaced. For one thing it can mean that you have absorbed the meaning of your loss.

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