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Infuriating Caddick can drive you nuts

When victory came for England at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Tuesday it was pretty much on schedule. Soon after lunch had been the suspicion, given the rapid deterioration of the pitch, and it was eight minutes past two when Stuart MacGill had his stumps blown away.

That Andrew Caddick delivered the explosion was galling to say the very least. All Australian summer long England have implored the experienced, threatening version of Caddick to lead the attack. Instead, an ordinary impression has been on view, until that last morning at the Melbourne Cricket Ground when Australia needed just 99 to win and England had nothing to lose.

He has done this before against Australia, delaying until the party is over before putting in his best appearance. The Australians have got one on him mentally — they know it and you cannot help but feel he knows it, too.

In England’s first innings in Melbourne, Caddick was batting sensibly with Craig White, the two of them chipping away at a deficit. White, who is from Victoria and had not yet convinced the locals of his international rating never mind made a Test match hundred before their eyes, was in the 80s when Caddick, who had 17 himself, moved outside the line of leg-stump and was bowled having a mighty heave.

This was an irresponsible moment made all the more inexplicable by the imaginary drive back over the bowler’s head he practised during his walk back to the pavilion.

For goodness sake, Compton would not have looked to drive Jason Gillespie back over his head, never mind Caddick.

And yet, when this tall and indisputably talented man steams in with ball in hand to prey upon an insecure opponent or an uneven pitch he becomes unstoppable — even by Australians.

It must drive Nasser Hussain nuts. This was the ninth of his 13 five-wicket hauls that have come in a winning cause, which is testament to the value on offer. After all, no one takes more than 200 Test wickets unless they can bowl a bit. But then you get the other days, like the infuriating one at Leeds last summer and a couple early on this tour.

Caddick is not a bad fellow, quite the opposite in fact, but when he fails to do himself justice he prefers to find excuses. The worry is that this infects the rest of the team. No doubt about it, a firing Caddick makes for a fiery England and ditto the opposite. He is 34 now and it may be too late to get the message across but on the back of such a storming, match-winning performance it is hard to imagine that Hussain will not continue to try.

And the captain himself' What a time he has had in Australia. Half his team arrived injured and half have gone home injured. Nothing but desperation brought Darren Gough to Australia and provided an insight into the management’s state of mind.

Since then, blow after blow has rained upon them and, at times, Hussain has appeared near his wits end. He was happy to enjoy the moment of triumph on Tuesday but realistic about the need for a full review of an otherwise disastrous series.

A month ago it did not seem as if he could continue in the job, but with typical resilience, bloody-mindedness we might call it in his case, he has continued to make runs himself and drawn eight consecutive days of good Test cricket out of his men.

Immensely proud, certainly tough enough and always committed with heart and soul, Hussain has much to give English cricket should he still choose to do so. It is an unedifying sight though, and unworthy, when he so angrily and publicly berates his team. Television rarely fails to catch these moments, which give the impression of a man not at ease with himself or his position.

Thank heaven he found the inner calm to smile while facing the usual media barrage that completes a series and a sense of anticipation about the one-day tournament to come.

Many respected Australian judges, who come at this once every couple of years, think it is time for someone else to take charge — Michael Vaughan perhaps. But for the immediate future Vaughan should be left as he is, roaring up the ranking of international batsmen and developing the confidence and knowledge to deal with all that goes with the captaincy of England.

“A great day for English cricket,” someone said as we left the ground. Not so, but at least it was a good one for a long-suffering team. They competed in, and deservedly won, a memorable match, one of the best. Their singing supporters, who are not everyone’s cup of tea, had reward at last for unstinting loyalty and the rest of us had fun too. It has been quite a New Year. A great day for English cricket will come when Australia are beaten again in an Ashes series. This can happen, sooner than some suggest, but truths have to be faced and people made accountable for what clearly has been an unsatisfactory journey across the world’s finest cricketing land. THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

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