Former English cricket captain Nasser Hussain called Shane Warne a “nightmare’ to play against, as tributes flowed for the late King of Spin at the MCG on Wednesday.
Hussain captained England from 1999 to 2003 and played 17 Ashes tests against Warne, during which the great leg spinner tormented him with words and with the ball.
“I had no delight in playing against Shane… the word I should have used was nightmare,” Hussain joked.
“He was the king bowler, but also the great sledger, and he seemed to just wait for me to come out.”
Earlier, Hussain described Warne as the greatest cricketer to ever play the game as well as a great bloke.
He recalled a finals match England played against Australia at home in 1999.
“He had been sledging me all day,” Hussain said.
“I’ve sledged him for some reason, saying something like, ‘Enjoy your last game as captain; Steve Waugh’s back next game, you’re never going to captain Australia again.’”
“At the time it seemed a really good thing to do.”
The very next ball, Warne drew Hussain off his crease and his wicket was tumbled by wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist.
Earlier in the day Hussain called Warne a “pantomime villain” in sledging and putting batsmen off their game so he could deliver the killer ball.
“He would welcome you in the morning. He’d go, ‘Morning Nasser’, and then he’d say, ‘You do realise I’ve got you out 13 times in Test match cricket’,” Hussain told Fox Cricket.
“He was the king bowler, but also the great sledger and he seemed to just wait for me to come out.
Facing Warne left many overwhelmed by his intimidating presence and legend.
“What was it like? It was the best thing you did in your life and the worst thing as well,” Hussain said.
“You had this legend, this aura, 30 yards away from you, spinning this duke’s ball, the blonde hair, the zinc, the inevitable sledge when you got down his end, the drift.”
He added that despite the heartbreak he consistently invoked for their team, the English fans also held a respect for Warne.
“The fans, the Barmy Army, all the songs, they loved to hate him but they also appreciated the way he reacted to a difficult situation,” he said.
“The English fans love someone that is not just a genius, they love someone that when the chips are down will fight seriously hard for their team and their country.”