Thursday, Mar 06, 2003
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By Ted Corbett
He is likely to be followed by one of three candidates: Michael Vaughan, the outstanding batsman in the England side at the moment, sure of his place and already the bookmakers' favourite; Marcus Trescothick, who has been vice captain to Hussain at various times with England; and
Adam Hollioake, who has been in the shadows since he led England to victory in the Champions Trophy in Sharjah four years ago.
Neither Vaughan nor Trescothick have any captaincy experience worth talking about and Trescothick will have to improve his batting after a winter in which he has clung on to his place simply because there was no adequate replacement.
So it may be that, as a temporary measure, England turns to Hollioake who has a firm supporter in David Graveney, chairman of selectors, and his manager during the Sharjah triumph.
Hollioake has never been a success at Test level but he is an outstanding captain of Surrey and, like Hussain, he has a sure touch with public relations and the knack of inspiring his players to produce cricket above their norm. The Sharjah victory was achieved with several players in the late stages of their careers--Doug Brown of Warwickshire and Matthew Fleming of Kent in particular--who had no international experience before or since.
After the tragic death of his brother Ben in a car crash a year ago it looked as if Hollioake might quit cricket and it was two months into last season before he could bring himself to lead Surrey again. It was soon obvious that here was a new Hollioake. He was more daring, more likely to go for the big shot and more adventurous as a captain.
How shall we judge Hussain, who says he wants to gain 100 England Test caps and continue as the Test captain? There can be no doubt that he has left England's one-day side in a stronger state than he found them after the last World Cup. His own aggression has made his players stronger, his brilliant fielding has inspired his men to sharpen their own out-cricket and although his batting is stodgy by one-day standards it has never lacked courage. But, after the failure to beat Australia last Sunday after having it, in boxing terms, groggy on the ropes, Hussain's captaincy is under fire.
I told one leading administrator of his resignation and his verdict was damning. "Hussain has turned out to be a bad captain," he said. "I can tell you that half a dozen of the last ten England captains would never have lost that match."
He then went on to list Hussain's failings--not bowling Andrew Caddick's for his ten overs, not attacking the tail, bad field placings--in what will, unfortunately, be the final verdict on a man who is rated highly for his Test leadership.
In Melbourne last winter I met a distinguished former England captain who made similar comments. He pointed to Hussain's field and said: "I keep reading he is the best England captain since Mike Brearley. Believe me, professionals find that hard to take."
Hussain's own verdict is, not surprisingly, different. "I have not been in the habit of being big-headed in Press conferences," he said as he announced his decision to stand down. "But I feel I leave England with the basis for a good side."
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