Cricket Expert & Columnist
The One That Got Away: Nasser Hussain on 2002 NatWest Final versus India
"It was what made me who I was; I was a bit feisty at the best of times. So I just turned to the press box and stuck three fingers up, pointing to the three on the back of my shirt"
Last Updated: 16/05/20 6:02pm
Nasser Hussain says defeat to India in the 2002 NatWest Final at Lord's still gives him 'sleepless nights', as he speaks exclusively to Sky Sports for the 'One That Got Away' podcast series.
Hussain was England captain from 1999 to 2003, during which time he helped oversee a turnaround in the team's Test-match fortunes from the bottom-ranked side in world cricket to one that would go on to defeat the great Australia side of that era in the 2005 Ashes.
But success in the one-day format proved harder to come by, and there are two painful defeats that still live long in the memory for Hussain.
"My career was about just being the best I could be or, when I was captain, making England the best they could be," Hussain told Ian Ward on the latest The One That Got Away podcast, which you can listen to in the player below.
"But there are two games I do have regrets about: the 2002 NatWest Final against India and also the 2003 World Cup game against Australia in Port Elizabeth.
"We were all over Australia but we ended up losing a game we should've won. That sums up both of those games and why I do have sleepless nights.
"'Could I have done anything different? Could we have done anything different?' They are both games we lost that we should've won."
Hussain: England's Number 3
England's NatWest Final meeting with India on July 13, 2002, at Lord's, started well enough for Hussain and his charges, with the home side posting a formidable score of 325-5 from their 50 overs and the captain playing a starring role.
Having won the toss and elected to bat first on a dream batting deck, Hussain scored his one and only ODI century, while Marcus Trescothick too tonked a hundred at the top of the order.
"I was an average white-ball cricketer," admitted Hussain. "I knew I was under pressure.
"For about a year, [Bob] Willis, [Ian] Botham and [Jonathan] Agnew on the radio had been saying, 'Hussain shouldn't be batting at No 3, he's rubbish at white-ball cricket'. It did wind me up.
"My big failing in white-ball cricket is I got a lot of scores of around 30, chewing up deliveries. I'd then panic, slog it up in the air and get out.
"So I remember again getting to 30 off around 50 deliveries on a very good Lord's pitch and thought, 'for once, Nas, just stay in, do what you're supposed to and get a hundred. And if you do get a hundred, stick three fingers up to those three in the commentary box'.
"I got to 99 and Zaheer Khan bowled me one outside off-stump, I ran it down to third man; I was batting at the Nursery End, ran past Freddie and towards the Pavilion and thought 'shall I, shall I not?'
"It was what made me who I was; I was a bit feisty at the best of times. So I just turned to the press box and stuck three fingers up, pointing to the three on the back of my shirt.
"Someone said at the time 'I bet he'll regret doing that'. I don't actually. If I was in that position again, I'd do the same."
'Ganguly hadn't forgotten'
Hussain's outburst was typical of the fiery encounters between England and India of the era, with the opposition skippered by the equally hot-headed Sourav Ganguly.
The two teams had met in a six-match series earlier that year, in India, with England coming back from 3-1 down to ultimately share the spoils - a shirtless Freddie Flintoff leading the celebrations after victory in the sixth ODI in Mumbai.
Ganguly hadn't forgotten.
"Ganguly changed Indian cricket," said Hussain. "Before Ganguly, India were a very humble, polite team. He made them a very feisty side.
"Freddie bowled brilliantly at the death in that series, in scorching heat! He got the last wicket and, as was the fashion then, he whipped his shirt off.
"He was waving his shirt over his head and somewhere in Ganguly's mind, he stored that and made sure he used it at a future date."
The fall of India's 'Fab Five'
Back to Lord's; Ganguly, eager for revenge, quickly set about England's score, blasting a 35-ball fifty as he and the equally-aggressive Virender Sehwag brought up a century opening stand in just 13.1 overs.
"In those days,  that was a seriously good score! But we knew it was a very flat pitch and they had this Fab Five," said Hussain.
India's 'Fab Five' consisted of Ganguly, Sehwag, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman.
Laxman wasn't playing that day and, once Alex Tudor finally dismissed Ganguly for 60 in the 15th over of India's reply, incredibly, England made light work of what was left of the Fab Five.
"We got wickets at regular intervals and got them 146-5," recalled Hussain.
"You ask me now what I still think about on the treadmill; I've got India in a final 146-5, chasing 326 - we've got Ganguly, Sehwag, Dravid, and Tendulkar out - that's when you're thinking what could I have done differently?
[Did you take the foot off the gas?] "I didn't. But, looking back, I guess some of our team might have done. Not in the fact they did anything different or that I actually saw someone, but it must be a natural reaction.
"Ganguly, himself, admitted he thought the game was gone. They had two young lads coming in, in Yuvraj Singh and Mohammed Kaif who hadn't yet done a lot for them."
'Not bad for a bus driver'
Yuvraj and Kaif started to build a partnership. Having linked up at the start of the 24th over, they brought up a fifty partnership in the 33rd, and then raced through to a century stand in the 39th.
Paul Collingwood ultimately accounted for Yuvraj, in the 42nd over for 69, but Kaif carried on, steering his team to a sensational two-wicket win in the final over as he finished unbeaten on 87.
"It is the greatest innings that lad played. He will always be remembered for that," Hussain added.
"I remember him coming in and there being a bit of sledge: someone saying, 'who's this then skip?' And I said something like 'I think he must drive the bus; he drives Tendulkar around'.
"I might have made up this ending for an after-dinner speech, but when he hit the winning runs he was like 'not bad for a bus driver'."
While Kaif soaked up the moment out in the middle, up on the balcony of the Indian team dressing room, a shirtless Ganguly furiously waved his Indian shirt over his head in celebration.
He had his revenge. For Hussain, it was the one that got away.