Ask NASSER and BUMBLE: The greatest bowler? England’s next superstar? The best ground for grub? Our columnists answer the important cricket questions
- Sportsmail‘s Nasser Hussain and David Lloyd answer pressing cricket questions
- Hussain and Bumble name the players with whom they would like to self-isolate
- Hussain reveals which opponent bowled the most ‘frightening’ deliveries
There may be no cricket at present, but there is still much to discuss, and Sportsmail columnists Nasser Hussain and David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd are on hand to answer some important question.
Nasser and Bumble recall the best catches they’ve ever taken, while also revealing how they’ve been dealing with the sporting lockdown.
The pair also give details of what it was like to represent England in the 1990s and name the players they’s like to see captaining the side in the future..
David Lloyd (centre) and Nasser Hussain (R) answer cricket questions in the sporting lockdown
What’s the best innings you’ve seen played at close quarters?
NASSER: I saw a lot of Graham Gooch close up at Essex and he was just remarkable in the 1990s. But the one that sticks in my mind is Mark Butcher’s 173 not out against Australia at Headingley in 2001. He was such a nice, popular lad who had been left out of the squad for that match before I changed my mind. Then Butch had his day in the sun.
BUMBLE: I was umpiring at Taunton in 1986 when Viv Richards smacked a hundred for Somerset against Glamorgan off 48 balls. He just kept hitting it into the river! Sensational stuff.
Who bowled the fastest deliveries you ever faced?
NASSER: Brett Lee, especially on a quick pitch at the WACA, was frightening. Allan Donald when he was raw just ran up and hurled it without knowing where it was going, and something would click with Shoaib Akhtar and he would suddenly go from 90mph to 97mph.
BUMBLE: Jeff Thomson. Did I ever tell you about the time he hit me in the box? The modern day lads would refute it but there are plenty who think Thommo was the fastest of all time. What I do know is that he were certainly rapid.
Nasser Hussain says Australia’s Brett Lee was the most fearsome bowler he ever faced
What was the best catch you took, who was dismissed and can you describe it?
BUMBLE: It was a Roses match and Richard Lumb clipped one. I was at leg-slip, where I’d just gone a bit wider, anticipated his shot and dived to my left where it stuck in my mitt six inches off the ground. I had a bit of a run around after that one.
NASSER: There was one at point in a one-day game against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge when Sanath Jayasuriya slapped it at me and I caught it one-handed diving to my weaker left side. But the best came early in my career at my home ground of Valentines Park in Ilford, when I ran in from the boundary and caught someone low down. Can’t remember who.
Did you ever go out to bat without a box by accident? What happened?
NASSER: No. And once you’ve been hit there, as I’m sure Bumble will confirm, you never go out unprotected.
BUMBLE: No, especially after being hit there by Thommo. Always be prepared.
Nasser, did you take much notice of the press comments about your England captaincy? How easy is it to shut out criticism? Did you have a way of dealing with it?
NASSER: I listened to it, yes. I’d watch The Verdict on Sky and read the odd paper. I’ve always had a thick skin and my approach would be to try to prove people wrong if they criticised me. You realised that some were talking sense and you could learn something. I always listened to Mike Atherton and Mike Brearley when they wrote something about me or the game.
Hussain says he often felt determined to prove his critics wrong as England captain
Test batsmen play long innings using intense concentration. Are there any simple mind tricks a lower-level cricketer can use to relax between deliveries?
NASSER: Don’t build it up too much. A club cricketer could look forward to his innings all week and then put himself under too much pressure. Try to enjoy it!
BUMBLE: Just play the delivery and walk away. Switch on and then switch off between balls. I watched young Haseeb Hameed and after every ball he’d shadow play it about 20 times. It’s gone. Think about anything other than the last ball.
Who are currently the best young England-qualified batsman and bowler and what do you see in them?
BUMBLE: Dan Lawrence of Essex for razzmatazz, while Ollie Pope looks the complete batsman. And Saqib Mahmood has all the tools if he can get over his injuries. He’s quick enough and swings it.
NASSER: I’ve not seen too much of him, but with the bat Dan Lawrence’s stats in Australia on the Lions trip were phenomenal. And with the ball Saqib Mahmood has something about him. He could get reverse swing on the next Ashes trip.
Nasser and Bumble agree Essex’s Dan Lawrence is one of the best young batsmen in England
How are you dealing with the sporting lockdown?
NASSER: With lots of technology. I’m getting my young ’uns to download things like Zoom for me so I can do podcasts, and I’m enjoying some of the old cricket footage on my TV screen.
BUMBLE: I seem to be growing a beard and have done a lot of gardening.
Should Test players take a pay cut to help cash-strapped county players?
NASSER: I don’t think we’ve got to that stage yet, but the finances of the game will be perilous if this carries on long-term, especially for counties. When it’s all over, the game will have to reset.
BUMBLE: I’ve noticed footballers at some clubs are starting to take pay cuts and I guess if it happened in cricket that would be a good gesture of solidarity.
Nasser, how can you justify swapping your football allegiance from Leeds to Arsenal?
NASSER: It’s purely a regional thing! I was taken to watch Leeds by my brothers when I was young and I’ve always liked them, but when my kids came along I wanted to take them to watch a local team and I’ve always enjoyed the way Arsenal play. It’s Arsenal for me now — good and bad!
Nasser, when you had me by the throat at Tunbridge Wells in ’92 did you fear I was going to knock you out? – From former Essex and England bowler Mark Ilott
NASSER: Let’s give this some context. I’d had words with (Essex team-mate) Mark Waugh on the field and when we came back to the dressing room I was still ticking. I kicked out at Ilott’s ‘coffin’ and it landed on his foot as he came back from the shower. The biggest problem I had when he squared up to me was holding up a skinny Mark Ilott when he had absolutely nothing on. I stuck him on a coat peg but we were friends then and still get on now!
Would you rather face six balls from Jofra Archer or bowl six balls at Jos Buttler?
NASSER: Easy. Jos might hit me for 36 and make me look silly but Jofra could do serious damage. Only twice since I retired have I watched a spell of bowling and thought, ‘Thank goodness I don’t have to face that’ — Mitchell Johnson at the Gabba in 2013 and Jofra to Steve Smith at Lord’s last year. It was seriously dangerous.
BUMBLE: Jos would hit me into the middle of next week, but I’d fancy my chances of surviving six balls from Jofra. I’d just hope he didn’t bowl any no balls!
Bumble fancies his chances of surviving an over from England bowler Jofra Archer
Would you make it into today’s England Test team?
BUMBLE: Christ, no! I know I scored a double hundred for England once but that was about all I did. I’m like Rob Key in that respect.
NASSER: No, although it was my 52nd birthday on Saturday! I don’t like comparing eras but generally players are so much more skilful, fitter and stronger now.
If there had been decision reviews when you played, would you have better or worse numbers?
NASSER: I seemed to cop a few bad ones but I also got away with a lot. You always remember the bad ones, like the Wasim Akram lbw that pitched way outside leg-stump in Rawalpindi — I put my foot through a dressing room fridge afterwards! But if I’d been given out by Darrell Hair when I gloved one from Javagal Srinath during my first Test hundred, I might not have had an England career. It all evens itself up.
BUMBLE: I’d have had worse stats as a batsman and miles better ones as a spinner. I’d have certainly bowled a lot more because DRS gives you an extra stump. Don’t ask me, ask Shane Warne. He reckons he’d have got over 1,200 Test wickets with DRS!
How would you compare the depth and quality of international bowlers when you played and coached England in the 1990s to the current crop?
BUMBLE: By and large, I’d say the quality of opposition bowlers was better back then. I’m not sure there’s the depth now, even though there are some flippin’ good bowlers about.
NASSER: I never like saying it was better in my day, but I’m pleased I played in the era of some of the all-time greats like Warne, McGrath, Wasim, Waqar, Donald, Pollock, Walsh, Ambrose and Murali. There’s no question the quality went down but it’s coming back now through people like Archer and Rabada.
Bumble says Allan Donald was among a plethora of all-time great bowlers from the 1990s
Bumble, how many renditions of Sweet Caroline are you singing each day while isolated?
BUMBLE: I’m afraid it’s been parked for a while. I saw a video of my mate Pete Conway and his lad Robbie, who does a bit of singing, doing That’s Life by Frank Sinatra on stage and it were brilliant. As for Sweet Caroline, the main man Neil Diamond posted an updated version. ‘Hands, washing hands, reaching out, don’t touch me, I won’t touch you.’ So I’ll leave it to the master.
What and where are the best five lunches on the international circuit?
NASSER: Lord’s stands out by a country mile and everyone says Derby for some reason. I was so worried about facing their fast bowlers that I didn’t eat lunch there. India is great because I’m a big curry man. I also love the jerk chicken and rotis in the Caribbean.
BUMBLE: Lord’s is always top class. Lot of good seafood at the MCG and anywhere in New Zealand is good. And you get a cracking curry in Mumbai but lunchtime is a bit early for me.
Were the England team of the 1990s under-performers, poorly managed (no central contracts) or just rubbish?
NASSER: Good question. We had a rubbish coach! There were some special teams in that era and I didn’t think we had a bad team. Central contracts made a huge difference. Before then you were a county player who occasionally played for England and after contracts it was the other way around. It’s a very important change of mindset.
BUMBLE: Central contracts made all the difference. That England team in the ’90s were decent but other teams were miles better prepared. Ours would turn up two days before a Test.
Who would be the best and worst cricketers to be stuck with in self-isolation?
NASSER: The answer to both is Rob Key! He’s the most generous, funny person who always thinks of others, but he’s also the dullest man on the planet. He sent me a WhatsApp video today of him hitting golf balls into a blanket on his washing line having moved on from hitting them into a tent. Fascinating.
BUMBLE: England cricketer Laura Marsh would be the best! Nasser would be the worst, even though he’s always been an expert in self-isolating. We once had a break in Lake Taupo, New Zealand, between games and stayed in the same place. Nasser didn’t say a word to me in five days.
Nasser bears being stuck with ‘dullest man on the planet’ Rob Key in self-isolation
Do either of you still play any sort of cricket and when was the last time you picked up a bat?
NASSER: I got talked into playing a game for Alastair Cook and when I turned up there were thousands there and Tymal Mills was steaming in to bowl. Never again. I’ve moved on and, more importantly, my eyes have moved on.
BUMBLE: I played for Accrington 10 years ago, aged 62, when the club was struggling, but not since then. Never say never. My young grandson has started playing for the thirds and it would be a dream to play in the same team as him and my son. Watch this space!
Bumble hasn’t ruled out playing in the same Accrington team as his young grandson
Nasser, why did Sachin Tendulkar say you’re the best captain he played against?
NASSER: Because he’s a good judge of a captain! I actually have no idea but it was very nice of him to say that. He’s one of the greatest players the game has known — and the hardest to get out because he had no technical flaws. We had to think outside the box, like with Ashley Giles bowling down the leg-side, to try to get him out.
What do you hope we can still get out of this cricket season now the start has been delayed?
BUMBLE: I fear we’re a long way off getting some cricket. But everybody worldwide is in the same boat. There will be some hooley when all this is over.
NASSER: I’m still hoping we can get some Tests in towards the end of the summer, even if they have to be behind closed doors. The Hundred seems less likely now but I hope we get some cricket in and when it does come back I hope we all realise what we’ve been missing and appreciate it a bit more.
Who are the next Test and one-day captains of England?
BUMBLE: Ben Stokes will captain England some day, even though you could argue he’s got too much on his plate as it is. And Jos Buttler will be the next white-ball man.
NASSER: Joe Root will be around for some time, so I don’t think that will change for a while, but Jos Buttler would make a very good white-ball captain when Eoin Morgan calls it a day. Jos was very good in Bangladesh when he did it.
Nasser and Bumble agree Jos Buttler should one day succeed Eoin Morgan as England captain
If you had one over to take one wicket to win a Test, who would you throw the ball to?
BUMBLE: Shane Warne. He’d have fielders round the bat and would bring out his full box of tricks. There’d be a googly, a shooter, a zooter and a fluter. He’d want the ball, too.
NASSER: If it was someone I played with, it would be Darren Gough, who had that knack of making things happen in pressure situations. But if I was lucky enough to captain any cricketer it would be Shane Warne. He would just bamboozle people.
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