The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Merv Hughes, Gatting get a mouthful from Joe Hussain

London: Nasser Hussain’s father has branded Merv Hughes a “non-entity” following the former Australian pace bowler’s criticism of the England captain’s tactics.

On Sunday, Australia secured their eighth successive Ashes series victory with an innings triumph in the third Test in Perth. That gave Steve Waugh’s men an unbeatable 3-0 lead in the best-of-five match encounter after less than 11 days of Ashes action.

Hughes laid into Hussain, saying he had shown a “complete lack of interest”. But Joe Hussain, 62, who together with his son played for leading Essex club Ilford when Hughes was the overseas player at local rivals Woodford Wells, did not duck the Australian’s verbal bouncer.

He told Thursday’s edition of the Sun newspaper: “If anybody sees that stupid great moustache in Australia, they should tell the bloke behind it his old mate Joe Hussain wants a word with him.”

Joe Hussain, who played first-class cricket in his native India and now runs the Ilford Cricket School where his son was introduced to the game, added: “Tell him (Hughes) to come into the nets here and I’ll bowl a couple of beamers at him!

“Who is he to criticise Nasser' He wouldn’t even get in to the Australia C team if he was in his prime now. He’s a non-entity trying to carve out a new career with Sky TV by mouthing off.

“If a great Australian cricketer like Allan Border (who was once Essex’ overseas player) wanted to criticise Nasser, I’d listen to him — but Merv Hughes' I’ve known Merv since he was playing for Woodford Wells in the Essex league. He didn’t have such a big moustache then.

“The batsmen from my Ilford club used to hammer him around the ground. I’ve got 12-year-old kids at my cricket school with more brains than him.”

However, Hussain senior’s anger was not just reserved for Hughes. He also rounded on Mike Gatting after the former England captain criticised Nasser for flying out ahead of the rest of the party in order to be with his heavily pregnant wife Karen.

She gave birth last month in Perth to the couple’s second son Joel and the boy’s grandfather said: “Mike Gatting should know better than criticising Nasser for being at the birth of his son.”

Gatting was the last England skipper to lift the Ashes when his side triumphed in Australia during the 1986-87 season. However, in 1988, he was stripped of the captaincy following an alleged incident with a hotel barmaid and Joe Hussain added: “If Nasser had been seen stumbling out of a nightclub at 3 am with a blonde on his arm, then I would have been demanding him to resign too. But Nasser was just being a good family man and got his priorities right.”

And he contrasted his son’s record in leading England to a series win in Pakistan with Gatting’s tour there in 1987, which is best remembered for the Middlesex batsman’s on-field row with home umpire Shakoor Rana.

“When Gatting took an England team to Pakistan they lost and he almost started a war. Nasser’s team won there and everbody behaved brilliantly.”

Gatting’s former England teammate Ian Botham has gone further, calling for Hussain to resign the captaincy. But Joe Hussain said Nasser would carry on. “He’s been captaining sides since he was 11 and he’s never been a quitter.”

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