The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Time to focus on cricket, says Hussain

London: England Test captain Nasser Hussain is determined to put cricketing politics behind him as he focuses on the home series against Zimbabwe and South Africa over the next few months.

Hussain resigned from his one-day duties after England failed to progress beyond the first round of this year’s World Cup in South Africa, emotionally bruised after the protracted saga over whether his team should have played in Zimbabwe.

England refused to travel to Harare for their Group A match against Zimbabwe on February 13, citing concerns over security following President Robert Mugabe’s controversial land reforms.

“When you have been through something so traumatic...coming back to play cricket again felt very different this time,” Hussain was quoted as saying by The Times newspaper on Monday.

“Zimbabwe changed me. A year or two back, it would have been a huge thing, really important. But when you have been through such a winter and faced such big issues, it puts things in perspective.”

Hussain believes his public opposition to England’s scheduled visit to Zimbabwe during the World Cup was a good thing, especially within the context of his team.

“After a difficult Ashes winter, it brought us together,” he said.

“What players don’t want in that situation is a captain who says one thing to them and then goes into a press conference and says something different.

“I’m trying to cut down on things as captain. During the Zimbabwe business, I became more than I wanted to.

“There is always a political side to being England captain, but the balance had switched too much. I had two months of trying to be a politician. Now I want to get back to being a cricketer.

“It’s certainly raised my profile. I get recognised by non-sporting people now. It’s part of the English culture, I think. The English like a guy they think is hard-done-by. I’ve had a lot of letters of support.”

England play two Tests against Zimbabwe, starting on May 22, followed by five against South Africa.

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