Perth: England captain Nasser Hussain responded angrily to criticism by former skipper Mike Gatting, the last Englishman to lead his side to an Ashes victory over Australia.
Gatting, whose side beat Allan Border’s team 2-1 in the 1986-87 campaign, condemned Hussain for leaving for Australia two weeks before the rest of his team to travel to Perth with his pregnant wife.
“Nasser hasn’t helped the cause by spending time away with his family,” Gatting told the London Daily Express. “Pregnant wife or not, I just couldn’t believe he had left for Australia two weeks ahead of the rest of the party.
“It is simply unheard of for a team to travel without the skipper on board.”
But Hussain, visibly angry, rejected the criticism two days before his side takes on Australia in the third Test, aiming for an improved performance after crashing heavily in the first two clashes.
“If that’s what an ex-England captain thinks is the difference between the sides, then so be it,” Hussain said. “If he believes we are losing 0-2 because I came out two weeks early, then that’s his opinion.
“If that is why we are losing to Australia for the last 12 or 16 years, because I came out two weeks early, then English cricket has got some real things to think about.”
Hussain was also irritated by a question about the psychological advantage some observers suggest Australia hold over their English opponents.
“I don’t wish to be rude, but if I am going to do press conferences I don’t wish to repeat myself,” he said.
“I answered this question after the second Test, and unless some miracle has happened in the past two days, the answer is exactly the same. Australia do not have a psychological hold on us,” he insisted.
“What they do have is people who do their disciplines and play the game of cricket at the moment better than us — simple as that. Hussain dismissed suggestions he was under pressure after the side’s abysmal start to the tour.
“I have lost two Test matches on the bounce, and that is just the way it is at the moment.
“We can improve. I know that we are not playing the best cricket and, as captain, the buck stops with me. But, as long as I am giving it my best shot and doing what I believe is right for the team, then I don’t feel the pressure. I am only answerable to myself and my team.”