The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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‘Giving it all up was quite unlike him’
- Gooch feels every man chooses his time, but protégé Hussain will be respected for leading with honour, passion and aggression
Gooch is disappointed

Calcutta, Aug. 2: The captain who never hid behind excuses has given it all away and, while the Media in England continues to speculate on why Nasser Hussain suddenly quit on Monday, many in India have been saddened.

The Chennai-born Hussain, after all, never quite forgot his roots even as he continued to climb after his maiden call-up, in 1989-90. Of course, he was very proud to be the England captain but, equally, proud of his links (through father Jawad) with India.

Significantly, if there’s one other association Hussain has always been proud of, it’s the Essex one. It’s there that he met Graham Gooch (among Test cricket’s most prolific rungetters) and, quickly, gave him mentor-status.

Like the rest of the cricket fraternity, though, Gooch — a former England captain, selector and batting coach — has been taken aback by Hussain’s decision. Indeed, he said as much when The Telegraph contacted him on his cellphone late on Friday.

The following are excerpts

On Hussain’s decision to quit after the drawn first Test against South Africa, at Edgbaston

Like everybody else, that took me by surprise… Every man chooses his time but, frankly, I don’t know Nasser’s reasons. It’s not that England suffered a heavy defeat or… People are searching for an explanation…

On whether, as Hussain’s mentor, he felt let down

I was and I am disappointed… In fact, Nasser played for Essex a few weeks ago and didn’t even remotely indicate he was planning to leave… He didn’t get runs (1 and 23 not out) in what turned out to be his last Test as captain, but did lead England to wins in three consecutive Tests (Sydney, Lord’s and Chester-le-Street) just prior to that. Actually, after the draw, Nasser had everything to play for. Giving it all up was quite unlike him. Irrespective of what he said, it appeared a spur-of-the-moment decision.

On whether Hussain spoke to him immediately after going public with his resignation

He didn’t call… Must have had other things on his mind. (After a pause) I still haven’t spoken to him but, when I do, I’ll compliment Nasser for the fine job as England captain.

On whether Hussain had begun to get things wrong

No. As I’ve said, Nasser led England to three consecutive Test wins before the Edgbaston draw. Obviously, you can’t find fault with that… Moreover, when he played for Essex, he seemed in good nick. So, I wouldn’t say there was anything wrong with Nasser the batsman either… Except versus Australia, our performance against the other countries definitely improved in the four years that Nasser was captain. He left England in good condition.

On whether the controversial Zimbabwe issue, during the 2003 World Cup, will be remembered as the proverbial turning point in Hussain’s captaincy

I wouldn’t subscribe to that.

On whether repeated injuries at critical times to key players and the Graham Thorpe affair affected Hussain

(Interrupting) But every captain has to make do with the available resources. Injuries are part of the game. Then, for whatever reason, a key player may not be available for long periods…

On Hussain’s legacy

Nasser will be respected as somebody who led with honour, passion and aggression. He made rather heavy demands on his players and, most of the time, they responded. (Adds laughing) Nasser was quite a fiery captain.

On Hussain’s future as a Test batsman

My belief is that he has it in him to contribute for a while…

On Hussain’s successor, Michael Vaughan

Hasn’t got the start he was looking for… In time, though, I expect him to be his own man. In any case, he already has one-day wins under his belt.

On England having begun the summer with separate captains

That couldn’t be avoided because Nasser was through with the ODIs… Having two captains can work but, ideally, each country should have one.

Finally, on how difficult was it for him to quit as England captain (in 1993)'

At least, there was a reason — we had just lost the Ashes and, so… I don’t think I deliberated for too long. Nor, for that matter, did I take an on-the-spot decision… Honestly, it’s always easier being the vice-captain or one of the seniors. The decisions have to be taken by somebody else.

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