High­est in­di­vid­ual score by an English­man in Test cricket

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - Kapil Gower Gooch Fraser Gower Fraser Gooch

Len Hut­ton v Aus­tralia, the Oval 1938 have played against. Few could read the con­di­tions like he did. Men­tally tough, sound tem­per­a­ment, bril­liant bat­ting skills with his upright stance. He started that trend of hold­ing the bat high. Never heard him speak when he was at the crease. He would just bat and bat and bat. A good man.

I was re­minded of his hun­dred in the 1987 World Cup [semi-fi­nal] when he swept us out of the tour­na­ment. He was tough to bowl to when in such nick.

To me, the 123 (which made Gooch the high­est in­di­vid­ual run-scorer in a sin­gle Test – still a record) is the big­ger achieve­ment. So many peo­ple would have set­tled for hav­ing made a triple cen­tury in the first in­nings, and not wor­ried about the se­cond. But by that stage of his ca­reer, Gra­ham had worked out what he needed to do to make runs in big quan­ti­ties, each and every day. And if he for­got for a mo­ment, be­ing cap­tain re­minded him. Far from be­ing a bur­den, it spurred him on to greater things. This whole Test was a tes­ti­mony to the ul­ti­mate pro­fes­sional, then at the top of his game.

I cer­tainly never looked at the cap­taincy as a bur­den. I looked at it as an hon­our – the thing you re­mem­ber most about your ca­reer. No in­di­vid­ual per­for­mance can com­pare with be­ing asked to lead your coun­try. You are not just mak­ing the de­ci­sions; you are at the top of the pyra­mid of your whole sport. It is up to you to show the way, be­cause ev­ery­one looks to you for an ex­am­ple.

When they bat­ted again, I re­mem­ber that I got Sachin Ten­dulkar (then 17 years old and play­ing the eighth of his 200 Tests). Some bats­men are un­recog­nis­able be­tween the start of their ca­reer and the fin­ish. But Ten­dulkar has ex­actly the same be­gin­ning and end: strong off the legs, back-foot drives, cuts and stuff. If he has tin­kered with his tech­nique, it’s not no­tice­able on the eye.

Af­ter all that ef­fort, it was sat­is­fy­ing that we fin­ished it off by bowl­ing them out. Hem­mings chipped in with a cou­ple of wick­ets. He was a b----- good bowler, as I al­ways re­alised when I played against Not­ting­hamshire. Put real fizz on the ball, good loop, a lot of revs. A pro­fes­sional stroppy beg­gar, too – although if you got him away from the en­vi­ron­ment, you re­alised it was not all real. His strop­pi­ness was part of an act, the same as my laid­back­ness. I guess we were both Rada trained!

I al­ways play­fully rib Gooch over the fact that it is known as his match, but I won the game by tak­ing eight wick­ets. No one re­mem­bers that. The bats­men go out there and fill their boots on a flat one, but it is only seen as be­ing a great match be­cause we won. Still, that is just me be­ing big-headed. In fact, Gooch fin­ished it all off with a run-out from mid-off.

There’s a photo of the mid­dle stump out of the ground. Di­rect hit. It was their third seamer [Sharma]. He would have thought: “That fella’s not go­ing to run me out. He’s an old man!”

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