Highest individual score by an Englishman in Test cricket
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!”