East London: England skipper Nasser Hussain delivered another body blow to the morale of English cricket on Saturday when he threatened to quit after the World Cup.
Hussain is furious over the way the Zimbabwe boycott crisis has been handled and his mood was not improved when it was reported in London that his England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) employers had apologised to International Cricket Council (ICC) chief executive Malcolm Speed after it was alleged he swore at the Australian. "I firmly believe I have nothing to apologise for.
At no stage did I swear - I just let the head of the ICC know they had let us down," said Hussain, who was adamant he was considering his future in the job. "Definitely - I haven't made up my mind but I have to think about the future. The ICC should have seen the Zimbabwe crisis snowballing six months, a year ago. The whole issue has been fudged. "We have all been let down by the authorities and I feel that the ECB has nothing to apologise for." England finally begins its World Cup campaign on Sunday against the Netherlands, but it will do so having had to forfeit the four points for not playing its match in Harare against Zimbabwe last Thursday.
Earlier on Saturday in Johannesburg, the World Cup technical committee again turned down England's appeal to have the game switched to South Africa on security grounds. As well as losing vital points, the ECB faces a huge compensation claim from the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) for loss of income from the match. "As captain, I have been left isolated yet again. I am feeling very low and it's only the players and the cricket that have kept me going. I will captain England here to the best of my ability. I will lead the players into the tournament - it's the only way forward."
In Johannesburg, Lamb denied reports that Hussain had behaved improperly towards Speed at a players' meeting in Cape Town on February 6. There has been no written apology on the part of either Nasser Hussain or the ECB. Malcolm was right when he said when he went to players meeting he was in the wrong place at the wrong time," insisted Lamb. "There was an animated and passionate atmosphere at the meeting. Malcolm did come under a bit of pressure.
I just expressed regret to him about the animated atmosphere. There is no formal or official apology either sought or given and Malcolm has made it clear that he bears no malice to anyone in the England team. "Passions were running high and Nasser was only reflecting the mood of his team. No swear words were used, I even heard it suggested that he (Speed) was poked in chest. That's completely untrue. The dialogue was a little robust, no more than that. "On the eve of our first World Cup match in East London, I'd like to make it absolutely clear that Nasser Hussain, the captain of England, has the total support of the ECB."