England primed for ODI improvement - Hussain
England "need to learn to win in one-day cricket," after their elevation to the No. 1 Test ranking, as they have what it takes to emulate the multi-format dominance of West Indies in the 1970-80s and Australia in the 2000s, says Nasser Hussain.
England's up-and-down form in the ODI game, Hussain said in an exclusive interview to ESPNcricinfo, had to do with how they "prioritised Test cricket, a little bit like India have of late, prioritised one-day cricket. They need a good World Cup just so that the kids in England look at it and say, alright we can play one-day cricket.
"I think it's going to be very important, the next World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, for England. It is very difficult [to build dominance] but what this England side have now - what that Australian side had - is strength and depth."
Hussain expected the ODI series between India and England, which began at Durham on Saturday, to be closely contested. "One-day cricket has been a lot more about individual brilliance, a lot more about raw talent. Historically England have produced good, solid technical batsmen but you wouldn't say they have produced massive hitters of the ball, or people who can be innovative with the bat, or have weird actions with the ball, spin it both ways or reverse swing it. We've been a little bit too English, if you like, a little bit too orthodox. I think what wins you one-day games is a little bit of unorthodox and some individual brilliance. We've always lacked that."
England's ODI side was remodelled after the 2011 World Cup and is now led by Alastair Cook who began his full-time role with a 3-2 series win against Sri Lanka. Hussain said flair players were now coming through more frequently. "We're starting to produce those cricketers, albeit with a bit of foreign imports, a few South African imports, but it's still an English side. Guys like Eoin Morgan, an Irish import or whatever you want to call it. Like [Jade] Dernbach, he's got unusual variations with the slower ball and he's unorthodox - so its starting to go a down that road now."
Because of the strength and depth in the squad, and the manner in which they are handled, Hussain believes England can have sustained success across formats. "They are all of the right age and are well looked after. The challenge is not to do what they did in 2005, when they got giddy and thought they've climbed their Everest and that's it, we've done it. I don't think this lot will do it."
England's next target, Hussain said, was coming up in the subcontinent winter, when they will play ODIs in India, a Test series against Pakistan in the UAE and a Test series in Sri Lanka. "Going there and winning is the next thing," said Hussain, who captained England to victory in both Pakistan and Sri Lanka in 2000-01. "England have got a lot of tours coming up in the subcontinent in both forms of the game. In Test cricket, it's a completely different brand of cricket. Look at Jimmy [Anderson] bowling in the World Cup, and Jimmy bowling here now. Their biggest challenge is going to be finding that second spinner, whether it's going to be Monty [Panesar] or Samit Patel or someone like that, [and finding] reverse swing bowlers."
Away from the subcontinent, Hussain said South Africa were England's biggest challenger for the No.1 spot in Tests. "South Africa are a threat, they rely heavily on [Morne] Morkel and [Dale] Steyn. Imran Tahir is a very useful addition to them. They are a good side but I still fancy England. If you had all of the Pakistan team available and all fit, and none of the politics, and none of the going around in circles with captains and all that, with their bowling attack, they would be a threat to world cricket but unfortunately that's not the case."
The full interview with Nasser Hussain will appear on ESPNcricinfo next week.