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July 6, 1999


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Hussain makes history

Abid Hussain

Abid Hussain I am a proud uncle staying far away from my nephew. I think all of us can be proud of the fact that the boy (Nasser Hussain) is from Chennai. He was born here. Is it not a proud moment for Tamil Nadu and the whole nation, that an Indian has been appointed the captain of the England team?

It think it is for the first time in the history of English cricket that this is happening. Yes, Ranjitsinghji, Duleepsinghji and Pataudi Sr played for the English cricket team. But this is for the first time that an Indian has been made the captain of an English team. I am very, very proud of my nephew for making it so big in the international cricket arena.

We are the descendants of Nawab Wallajab of Karnatic. We, the four brothers and three sisters, lost our father when we were very young. My eldest brother was ten years old then and my youngest sister just eight months old. Whatever we are today, it is all because of our mother, who instilled in us discipline, value of education and the importance of being good human beings. And I would also call my family a family of sports persons.

In those days, in schools, we had physical education classes, and all of us pursued one sport or the other earnestly and excelled in them. My eldest brother, R Mohammed Hussain, was the captain of the college hockey team, then the university team and finally he was in the state team also. When he was in the team, nobody would dream of occupying the right-half position!

I am Abid Hussain, and I played hockey and cricket only at the college level. My younger brother R Nawaz Hussain studied engineering here and he was the captain of the college cricket team and eventually became the captain of the university team too. I still remember that Kirpal Singh, who later on became a Test player, was his vice-captain when they were playing for the college. Even the match they played in Loyola College for the University is still vivid in my memory. My brother and Kirpal Singh had a century partnership.

The youngest brother was R Jawad Hussain, father of Nasser Hussain, and he also played both cricket and hockey. He was the first one from our family to have graduated from the college and university level to the Ranji level. He was a batsman for the Tamil Nadu Ranji trophy team and batted in the middle order.

He used to take his three boys, Meheryar Hussain, Abbas Hussain and Nasser Hussain, to the Madras Cricket Club whenever he practiced there. I still remember his father talking about Nasser, the four-year-old, grabbing his brothers' bat and facing the ball courageously. Nasser might have picked up his early lessons watching his father play.

Do you know why Jawad migrated to England?

The first reason was that he wanted to make them good cricketers and, of course, give his children the best education too. Whatever you say, England is the Mecca of cricket, where there are several counties; cricket is played almost throughout the year. You can have a career of playing cricket only there, I think.

Nasser was just four when they left for England. Parting is always difficult, and I still remember the moistened eyes of my brother, Jawad, as he embraced our mother at the airport.

He could achieve what he aimed for there in England. Now Jawad runs a cricket academy/school in Essex, and the children play county cricket. So, you can imagine how involved they are with cricket. Even after Jawad's boys, that includes Nasser, too, started playing for various counties, they used to come here during off-season to play for the MCC.

I am a bachelor and I don't have children of my own. So, I am very attached to my nephews and nieces. If there is a match of Nasser Hussain on television, I won't miss it for my life. I was glued to the television when the World Cup was going on. My brother called me over to England during World Cup, but due to some urgent work, I couldn't go. But I told him, "Don't worry. I will be praying for your son."

The other day also, even before ESPN started telecasting the England - New Zealand match live, I was there in front of the television, waiting for the match to begin. I haven't missed a single match of his. After every match, I will send a telegram to my brother. That is how I express my happiness.

Abid Hussain If Nasser Hussain is what he is today, it is all the because of his father. Of course, on his own merit too. See, he had no godfather to fight for him or support him; only the abundance of talent that he has, talked for him. When he scored that 207 against Australia in England in the Ashes series itself, I knew he would become the captain soon. And, he is rated as one of the best fielders in the world, along with Jonty Rhodes. So, I was not surprised at all when I got a call from Naseer.

You know, I was the first person to get a call, in India, from Naseer after he was appointed the captain of the English team. He said, "Uncle, you will be happy to know that I have been appointed the captain of the English team." He phoned me even before his father could call me! I got a call from his father after that only. And that was one of the greatest moments of my life. Even if God had called me to heaven, I would not have gone then. I wanted to be here, cherish the moment and share his happiness.

As told to Shobha Warrier

Photographs: Sanjay Ghosh

Abid Hussain is Nasser Hussain's paternal uncle. The boy in the photograph is Zain Abbas, Nasser's first cousin's son, and he too plays cricket. His idol, however, is not his uncle, but Mohammad Azharuddin and Shoaib Akhtar.

Mail Prem Panicker