Cricket legends Nasser Hussain and Graham Gooch meet Upminster youngsters during surprise visit
- Credit: Ellie Hoskins
Cricketing legends Nasser Hussain and Graham Gooch put some Upminster youngsters through their paces during a surprise visit.
The duo, who both played for Essex and England during distinguished careers, met Upminster Cricket Club’s under-nines on Tuesday (September 1).
Nasser and Graham answered questions from the kids and joined in with some fielding drills during the event in Upminster Park.
The pair were quizzed on topics ranging from their favourite batting partners to what it was like to play for Essex.
Nasser said his key message for the youngsters was to enjoy playing the game.
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“Play and hit and catch and bowl as many balls as possible,” he said. “Don’t try and define yourself in one role. At this age, I was bowling and I ended up batting at number three for England.
“But it’s not all about playing for Essex or playing for England, it’s about having fun, it’s about finding out about yourself, it’s about finding out how you cope under pressure in a team. It’s about health, getting out after being in lockdown for such a long period and not doing sport.”
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Graham, who is England’s second-highest test run-scorer and hit 20 hundreds in the format, said it was great to be able to surprise the kids.
“It’s been absolutely brilliant. I’ve really enjoyed coming down here, it’s been great to see. The sun’s shining, you can see how the children are responding to what the coaches are doing. If you see scenes like this, it gives you hope and satisfaction that the game is in safe hands.”
He felt that generating the right attitude through cricket would help the children in all aspects of life growing up.
“I think you’ve got to build a good attitude at the beginning. If your attitude is right, you want to do your best. It’s OK to fail. There’s no problem with failing, you’ve just got to get up and try again.
“You build your character at the beginning. Obviously the skills will come a bit later. You’ve got to have that enthusiasm and attitude at the beginning and then you can have success.
“Those sort of attributes will stand you in good stead for your whole life, whatever you decide to do.”
Born in Madras (now Chennai) in India, Nasser recalled playing on the outfield of the Chepauk Stadium with his brothers before the family moved to Ilford, where he continued his upbringing.
He said: “The sport was certainly in the blood for me. My dad was cricket mad. He wanted me to be a cricketer and I wanted to be a cricketer.”
The former England skipper, who led his country in 45 out of the 96 tests he played, said he enjoyed growing up with mixed communities in Ilford.
“When I was brought up, there used to be a British-Asian net, a British-Caribbean net and I used to love that camaraderie. If India were beating Pakistan or West Indies were hammering England 5-0, there was a real culture of cricket.”
The Sky Sports commentator said he couldn’t think of two better role models for today’s kids than England’s leading test runscorer, Sir Alastair Cook, who is still playing for Essex, and pace bowler Jimmy Anderson, who took his 600th test wicket last week.
But he hoped as much cricket could be played as possible this month, citing an example in his own family.
“The cricket season comes around and my daughter is in the A team and that makes her summer so important. Obviously this summer she has missed out on that because school was cancelled and cricket was cancelled.”
Essex have won two of the past three County Championships, as well as taking top honours in the competition six times between the end of the 1970s and the early 1990s during Graham’s period in the team.
He said this success was vital to inspiring the next generation.
“Myself and Nasser were inspired to play for our county by watching the county players, watching the international players on TV to a degree and you wanted to emulate them and do as well as you can.
“The kids who are here now, you never know who might come through. In 10 years’ time, they might be the next Alastair Cook or Ravi Bopara.”
The visit was arranged by Royal London, who sponsor England men’s and women’s one day international cricket.