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Published: Thursday, November 15, 2001, 23:53 [IST]
Nasser Hussain (Essex, captain), Marcus Trescothick (Somerset), Mark Butcher (Surrey), Graham Thorpe (Surrey), Mark Ramprakash (Surrey), Usman Afzaal (Nottinghamshire), Michael Vaughan (Yorkshire), Craig White (Yorkshire) Warren Hegg (Lancashire, wkt), James Foster (Essex, wkt), Ashley Giles (Warwickshire), Richard Dawson (Yorkshire), Jimmy Ormond (Leicestershire), Matthew Hoggard (Yorkshire), Richard Johnson (Somerset), Martyn Ball (Gloucestershire)Copyright AFP 2001
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London:England captain Nasser Hussain said on Monday that his side's forthcoming three-Test tour of India was the "greatest challenge" of his career[an error occurred while processing this directive]"India is the hardest side in the world to beat at home. This is my greatest challenge as player and captain. It's going to be bloody hard."They beat Australia last year and there is no greater challenge," Hussain told 'Sky Sports' ahead of England's departure for India on Tuesday.By way of comparison Steve Waugh's side thrashed England 4-1 in the Ashes series here earlier this year.The build-up to the tour has been dogged by security questions with five England players asking for more time to consider their availability in light of world events. Two, off spinner Robert Croft and Andrew Caddick, eventually dropped out citing concerns from their families.As Hussain was speaking at a Heathrow hotel reports reached London of an airplane crash in New York and the Essex batsman was asked if that meant the tour was again in doubt. "I'm the England cricket captain. I can't answer questions about global security."Returning to cricket, Hussain said temperament as much as talent would determine England's success."No-one should underestimate the challenge. But it's up to all of us as coach captain and individuals to get the most out of the players. Team spirit and character are going to be vitally important."With the likes of fast bowler Darren Gough and wicket-keeper Alec Stewart pulling out before the terror attacks in the United States on September 11, England was already under strength.The subsequent withdrawals of Croft and Caddick mean that the bowling attack in particular is vastly inexperienced. Of the spin trio of Ashley Giles, Richard Dawson and Martyn Ball, only left-armer Giles (eight appearances) has played Test cricket but the Warwickshire slow man is in the process of recovering from an achilles operation with England gambling he will regain full fitness in India.The three main seamers have even less experience.Yorkshire quick Matthew Hoggard has two caps to his name, Leicestershire paceman Jimmy Ormond one, while Somerset's Richard Johnson is still awaiting his debut as they all prepare for the task of bowling on lifeless pitches that put a premium on accuracy.Only five members of the 16-man squad have played more than 20 Tests and just two players - Hussain and left-handed middle-order batsman Graham Thorpe - have more than 50 appearances to their name.Hussain admitted he could understand queries about such a novice side going to India. "Everyone is sceptical about most things. All we can do is go out and play and give ourselves a chance by being in the right frame of mind.""I'm not worried about questions from the press. The questions that need answering are about how we bowl to great batsmen like Sachin Tendulkar and whether we can face Anil Kumble on a turning, spitting wicket," he said."We are going to be tested and the sooner we adapt to the conditions the better."England is due to play three Tests at Mohali, Ahmedabad and Bangalore during the tour.They will then return home for Christmas before coming back to India mid-January for a series of five One-day Internationals.