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The Definitive: Nasser Hussain

by Wisden Staff

England captain turned commentary box star Nasser Hussain talks us through his greatest innings.

THE TRANSITION
A schoolboy hundred turns on a light | 1981

I scored 130 during a game for Essex U13s in Barbados. Previous to that I’d bowled dodgy leg-breaks and batted in the middle-order, but it was this innings that made people see me differently as a cricketer at Essex.

UNDERGRADUATE GLORY
118 | Somerset v Combined Universities, Benson & Hedges Cup, Taunton, 1989

We had a fantastic B&H Cup run that year, which took us as far as this quarter-final match at Taunton. All 11 of the Combined side played first-class cricket and it was a game we should have won and gone even further. We needed 30 off 36 balls before, of all things, Peter Roebuck’s leg-spinners undid us. It still haunts me. We lost by three runs, chasing 252. We’d beaten Surrey and Worcestershire to get there, when Worcestershire were the best side in the country.

THE MARKER
61 & 27 | Nottinghamshire v Essex, County Championship, Trent Bridge, 1989

This innings was probably the first time that people talked about me as being a bit of a prospect. It was played on a terrible pitch. I remember Derek Pringle got chinned by a lifter and Notts’ overseas player Franklyn Stephenson took 15 wickets in the match. The pitch went sideways and up and down, and was quick! I kept digging balls out that kept low and made the top score in both Essex innings.

THE TEST DEBUT
13 & DNB | West Indies v England, First Test, Sabina Park, 1990

It was the first time England had beaten West Indies for 18 years and 30 Tests. Allan Lamb won the game with a brilliant 132 and I made 13 off 12 balls with three fours before nicking off to Ian Bishop. The game ended with us needing 40 to win in the second innings and we got there one down with Ned Larkins and Stewie [Alec Stewart] – also on debut – in at the end.

THE MAIDEN TEST TON
107 | England v India, Third Test, Trent Bridge, 1996

I had played nine Tests over six years before this. I’ve always liked batting at Trent Bridge and after India made over 500 in their first innings I had a big partnership with Ath [Michael Atherton] before typically having to retire overnight after breaking one of my fingers again. It was a good pitch and I played nicely.

THE DADDY HUNDRED
207 | England v Australia, First Test, Edgbaston, 1997

This innings, as well as being my highest score in Test cricket, is undoubtedly the best innings I ever played. It was the first Test of the Ashes summer and Andy Caddick and Darren Gough had bowled Australia out on the first morning for 118. We were 16-2 when I went in and 50-3 when Graham Thorpe came to the crease. We added 288 for the fourth wicket with Thorpey making 138. I was sixth out shortly after reaching a double-hundred. It was the only time I’ve ever really felt in complete control during an innings and it just went on and on. It was the best feeling and I hit 38 – count ‘em – thirty-eight boundaries!

THE CAPTAIN’S KNOCK
109 & 15 | Sri Lanka v England, Second Test, Kandy, 2001

It was hot and played in tough conditions and Muttiah Muralitharan was spinning the ball square. I think he bowled 61 overs in the first innings. We were one down in the series with two to play and had bowled them out for 297 in the first innings. I batted with Thorpe (59) and Stewart (54) to see us somewhere near level. We eventually ground out a 90-run lead, which proved crucial in the end. We knocked off 160, seven down, to win and level the series. It was a great all-round team performance and gave us the belief to go on and win the series in another twitcher at Colombo.

THE ‘THREE’ SIGN
115 | England v India, NatWest Series final, Lord’s, 2002

There was lots of conjecture within the press as to whether I was the right man to bat at number three for England in one-day cricket. I was under a fair bit of pressure and after reaching a hundred I pointed to the number three on my shirt. We made 325 and lost in what some people regard as the best ODI they’ve seen. It is my only one-day hundred for England.

ESSEX MAGIC
161* | Essex v Glamorgan, National League, Chelmsford, 2003

At the end of my career I played really well for Essex in one-day cricket. I started opening the batting, and for me, smashed the ball around. This was my highest one-day score. I really enjoyed it and played with the fluency I’d forgotten I had.

THE SIGN-OFF
103* | England v New Zealand, First Test, Lord’s, 2004

It was a great way to end a Test career. To finish with a hundred anywhere is something special, but to do it at Lord’s was something else. It was the right time for me to go. England had a crop of young players coming through. Andrew Strauss scored a ton in the first innings on debut and would have scored one in the second dig, had I not run him out for 83! Michael Vaughan had led the side in the ODIs and the team had enjoyed it. He was out injured for this game, but due back for the second Test. It would have meant Strauss dropping out of the side, which wasn’t right. I decided there and then that that was it.

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