Port Elizabeth (South Africa): England skipper Nasser Hussain dismissed claims from Australian captain Ricky Ponting that when it comes to battles between the old foes, his players simply lose their heads.The two-wicket World Cup defeat on Sunday was England's 14th in-a-row against the world champions but Hussain denied his men were at a mental loss on how to cope with the Aussie juggernaut.
"It was just a case of someone like Andy Bichel coming into the side taking seven wickets and then scoring those runs at number 10," explained the England captain after the back-up paceman had taken seven for 20 and then hit 34 runs in the Group 'A' encounter.But Ponting was more than happy to open the wounds a little more."England performed their skills better than us for most of the day but when Andy Bichel hit a six and a four off the second to last over, we stole the game from them."I believe that England allowed a lot of doubts to creep into their minds and asked themselves: 'Is this going to be another day when the Australians get up and steal the game away from us just like before?"I have no doubt that these thoughts came into their minds at some stage," Ponting said.
"It's bloody disappointing. We had it there again, we just needed another wicket," admitted Hussain.England looked on course to end its dreadful run against the reigning champion when it had Pointing's men at 48 for four at one stage with Andrew Caddick taking four for 35. However, Caddick wasn't called upon to complete his full 10 overs at the death - instead, Hussain entrusted the penultimate over to James Anderson only to see the rookie Lancashire quick smashed for six and four by Bichel.
"James' variations had Bevan in trouble and I just thought Andy might be a bit one-paced. I thought one of Jimmy's slower balls would get 'stuck' in the wicket. It did but unfortunately the batsman hit it for six."England's hopes of going through to the second stage now rest on Pakistan beating Zimbabwe in Bulawayo on Tuesday with Hussain hoping his team's run rate is superior to that of the Asian giant.
"We've got nothing to be ashamed of. We've played some good cricket so far. We've got stuck on a dodgy wicket the other night (82-run loss against India under the Kingsmead lights on Wednesday) and we're the first team to give Australia a tough time."Hussain said he would have no complaints whatever the outcome of the Bulawayo match. "You get what you deserve in this game. I don't know if I'll watch the game. We'll know at the end of the day on Tuesday.
"A Zimbabwe win would end England's chances and Hussain once again insisted he had no regrets about the team's decision to boycott its World Cup match in Harare - a decision which gave the Africans four points for victory by forfeit and could yet see the co-host go through."Not at all. England going to Zimbabwe was always different from any other country going there."Copyright AFP 2001