Graham Gooch Biography
A colossal figure with his Zapata moustache, Graham Gooch was the symbol of permanence in a struggling England side of the 1980s and 1990s. And then he was perhaps the only man who could be seen perfecting his batting technique for a county game for Essex just hours after scoring 333 and 123 in a Test match.
A serious talent and fantastic player of pace from the very beginning, his early years were laced with unfulfilled promise and dubious breaks. Playing with a heavy bat which he held characteristically high in his stance, he was one of the hardest hitters of the ball, but his initial days were clouded with tentative prods and a somewhat ill-advised trip to South Africa. During his Test debut, he had a torrid time against Jeff Thomson and Max Walker, bagging a pair. Occasional knocks of high quality underlined his talent, but he was a late bloomer. The first hundred took 22 Tests and five years in coming, but was scored at Lord’s against the fire-breathing bowlers of West Indies. For much of his early days, he was an ordinary opening batsman with glimpses of great things, but never quite playing to potential.
The South Africa tour, as the captain of the rebel side, earned him a ban of three years. And for a decade he seemed destined for a just about average performer in an ordinary side. Indeed, it was more of the fickleness of David Gower and off field drama surrounding Mike Gatting that led him to being appointed captain.
And then, as he approached the wrong side of accepted cricketing middle age, his fanatical fitness routine and maniacal discipline bore fruit. He started scoring runs with a degree of consistency reserved for the greats of the game. His batting average was hauled from the stagnant mid-30s to the respectable early 40s, at his peak threatening to shoot through to the mid-40s. The triple century and century in the same Test at Lord’s was the high point, but one of the many incredible feats performed by his bat. He was one of the very best in business in the early 1990s, and certainly one of the best against the fierce pace of West Indies.
There came a slump towards the end of his career, coupled with a brown-wash in India and the failure of his apparently successful marriage. Yet, when he ended his cricketing days, his collection of runs in all top forms of the game, Tests, First-Class, One Day Internationals and List-A, was greater than that managed by Jack Hobbs.
He later played a role in the development of the fellow Essex batsman and England captain Alastair Cook. He had mixed runs as coach and selector, played the role of consultant for England and was a commentator of wry wit and plenty of insight.