Nasser Hussain’s brother Mel is bidding to help England win the Over 60s Ashes

Another series against Australia begins on Wednesday with a familiar name in Hussain in the England ranks. Not Nasser but his older brother Mel who will take part in the Grey Ashes.

Hussain is a regular on the seniors circuit and is in the England squad for the first of five one-day internationals that will decide the Over 60s Ashes.

It is the latest achievement of a Hussain sibling steeped in amateur and seniors cricket who was considered a bigger prospect than Nasser in his youth but drifted out of the county game to make a successful career in the city.

‘Seniors cricket is a massive growth area at the moment,’ said Mel before joining up with England at Thame Town CC in Oxfordshire. ‘You’ve got Shahid Afridi playing in the Pakistan Over 40s and there are half a dozen old pros like Darren Stevens who have gone straight from the county circuit into the England side.

‘You have 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s and I’ve seen it grow so much since I got involved about 10 years ago. It’s global now and in 10 years time it will be unrecognisable.’

Mel Hussain hitting a ton for Essex Over 60s against Australia in an Ashes warm-up at Maldon

Hussain hit a young Shane Warne for six during Australia¿s 1993 tour of England

Hussain hit a young Shane Warne for six during Australia’s 1993 tour of England

Mel Hussain, 59, qualifies because he is 60 this year and was a batsman good enough to play for Hampshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire as a young cricketer.

But he found fulfilment in the amateur game after taking up an offer with JP Morgan in his mid-20s instead of a two-year contract at Edgbaston.

‘I would have loved to have done what Nasser did but it’s amazing to represent my country like this,’ said Mel. ‘To do it at my age is so exciting.

‘When you get to my age everything hurts that little bit more and every niggle lasts longer but when you know you’re going to represent England you get out there and get fit.

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‘I am six pounds off my fighting weight when I was 18 playing for Hampshire and the incentive is I want to be in that England team for this Ashes and be a major player in it.’

Hussain had the talent to make it in the county game and thrived against some of the best bowlers in the world in county matches against international sides, including hitting a young Shane Warne for six during Australia’s 1993 tour.

But events conspired to take him down a different path to his brother who went on to become England captain and now a brilliant Sky commentator and Mail Sport columnist.

‘When I got to around 24 I was looking at my life and wondering where I’d be when I was 35 or 40,’ said Mel. ‘I had no qualifications because I got my first cricket contract at 18 so I was fortunate a friend of mine got me into the city, basically as a tea boy.

‘I really got into the markets and the traders could see my enthusiasm. My boss turned round to me one day and said I was a natural.

‘Bob Woolmer was coach at Warwickshire at the time and rang me to discuss a contract but I said I’d decided to go down a different path. I’m so glad I did.

‘I do look at people who went on to become really good players I felt I was ahead of and think ‘what if’ but those moments are few and far between because the city has given me a whole different living. There are no regrets.

‘I’ve played a lot of beautiful cricket which I’m doing now with the seniors and which I’ve done with England amateurs and I’ve had the best of both worlds.’

There is pride at what his younger sibling has done. ‘Imagine a boy born in Chennai called Hussain becoming England captain,’ said Mel. ‘He was a brilliant captain and now one of the best commentators Sky have got.

‘I’m not saying that because he’s my brother but he talks such common sense and he never sits on the fence. I’m super, super proud of his achievements.’

The famously competitive Mel admits he still has the passion for the game instilled in him by the Hussain clan’s father Joe and which was always evident in Nasser.

‘The passion is absolutely still there but the difference now is I haven’t got the temper I had at 18 which probably cost me at Hampshire,’ he said. ‘I clashed with Peter Sainsbury the coach but now I’m much more controlled and my biggest problem is my emotions because the night before a game I can’t sleep!’

Hussain with South Africa¿s legendary paceman Allan Donald at the Over 50s World Cup

Hussain with South Africa’s legendary paceman Allan Donald at the Over 50s World Cup

Former England captain Nasser Hussain (left) with siblings Benu, Mel and Abbas

Former England captain Nasser Hussain (left) with siblings Benu, Mel and Abbas

And it is that enthusiasm which Mel hopes will take him back to where it all started for his family when the Over 60s World Cup is held in Chennai next year.

‘It’s dad’s home town and it’s where Nasser was born but I was actually born in South Shields where my mum’s family come from so I’m an honorary Geordie,’ he added.

‘I was about eight months old when we went to Chennai and I was 13 when we came back. To go back there and play for England in the World Cup would be the pinnacle so for me this is the start of that chapter. Everything I’ve ever done cricket-wise would culminate in that.’

The Grey Ashes – 1st ODI today at Thame Town CC; 2nd at Burton CC on Sunday; 3rd at Southport and Birkdale CC on July 19; 4th at Chipping Camden CC on July 24; 5th at Littlehampton CC on July 30.

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