Graham Gooch scores 333 and 123 in the same Test

Graham Gooch hoists Ravi Shastri high on the first day of the first Test at Lord’s on July 26. Gooch went on to score 333, the sixth highest-ever Test score. The wicketkeeper is Kiran More, who infamously dropped Gooch when he was on 36. The man on the far right is Dilip Vengsarkar whose romance with Lord’s is part of cricket’s great epics © Getty Images

July 30, 1990. Graham Gooch walked back to the pavilion at Lord’s having scored 123 off 113 deliveries with four sixes. This was after he had amassed 333 in the first innings. Arunabha Sengupta recalls the extraordinary pair of knocks by the England captain in that magnificent Test match.
The most costly miss

For almost a decade and a half it had been latent, lurking potential; silent, simmering yet dormant. And suddenly it erupted in an enormous volcano of overflowing runs that spread over the singed Indians and buried their challenge as extinguished cinders. And the fissure for the release was provided by the unfortunate Kiran More.

The little Indian wicketkeeper dropped a sitter off Sanjeev Sharma when Graham Gooch was just on 36. He spent close to 10 hours castigating himself before a Manoj Prabhakar delivery rattled the stumps of the England captain. Gooch raised his bat as he walked back for 333. The England score stood at 641.

Graham Gooch scores 333 and 123 in the same Test

The scoreboard shows 333 for the last man following Graham Gooch’s dismissal on the second day of the first Test match between England and India at Lord’s in London on July 27, 1990 © Getty Images

He returned in the second innings, despatching Kapil Dev off his toes to the Tavern boundary 65 yards away, his three-pound Stuart Surridge Grand Prix Turbo belting four sixes and 13 fours to race to 123 off 113 balls. In the process, he broke Greg Chappell’s record for the highest number of runs in a single Test match, by a good 76-run margin.

And Gooch did not stop there. Prior to the Lord’s Test, his career had been sluggish, almost buckling under the burden of his undoubted abilities. He had toted up 5158 runs in 78 Tests, but they had come at a sedate average of 37.92 with just nine centuries, marking him as a batsman just short of the frontline, and some rows behind the greatest names of the day. This single match grabbed his career figures by the bootstraps and hauled it into the realms of the respectability, taking it past the benchmark of 40 and then another 68 decimal points. From this epochal match at Lord’s till the end of his career, Gooch played 40 more Tests scoring 3742 runs at 51.37 with 11 hundreds.

Three figure score all of them three

It started with that fickle hand of fortune, covered in the wicketkeeping gloves of More, muffing the most expensive catch in history. The score would have been 61 for two in one and a half hours and Mohammad Azharuddin’s decision to send England in could have sparkled with the glint of inspiration. However, England reached 82 for one at lunch and the decision was already being debated. During the remaining sessions, the strokes flowed, the scoreboard struggled to keep up, the voices grew louder and the Indian captain looked bemused. At the end of the day, England stood at 359 for two, Gooch six short of a double hundred, and Allan Lamb having stroked his way to an attractive century just before the close of play.

It was another 90 runs before Lamb left, the partnership between captain and vice-captain amounting to 308. Robin Smith walked in to cash in on the wonderful platform, and struck his way to a quick 100. By then Gooch had finally missed an off-drive to be bowled by Manoj Prabhakar for 333. It was the first triple hundred since Lawrence Rowe had hit 302 at Bridgetown in 1974. There had been theories that fielding had improved way too much for batsmen to score that many runs. Another example of pop-analysis that the game continues to be riddled with.

Sir Garfield Sobers, on a golf link far away, had been contacted by reporters for his early reactions as Gooch had passed his third century. Ultimately the approaches proved premature. The record of 365 remained intact for a few more years. The Essex man batted 10 hours and 28 minutes and hit 43 boundaries and three sixes. England declared after Smith’s hundred at 653 for four.

Sheer murder

But, the Lord’s Test of 1990 was much more than just Gooch. It was a match scripted in indelible, flowing characters in the annals of cricket for quality, daring and spirit. In some nostalgic minds it created an impression deep enough to dig out memories of another great game played in the same hallowed arena 60 years ago.

In 1930, as many as 1,601 runs had been scored over four days of stroke-making that had converted Lord’s into a cricketing heaven. KS Duleepsinhji had caressed 173, Don Bradman piled 254 — universally accepted as the most perfect of his masterpieces, Percy Chapman had furiously flayed the bowling for 121. It had been a run feast fit for the gods, and England had lost after scoring 405 on Day One. The collection of runs had stood as the highest in a Test match played at Lord’s.

This game went further, producing 1,603, with 456 of them coming from the willow of Gooch.

Yet, in the Indian first innings there was his opposite number, the magical Azharuddin, spreading a web of enchantment with his wristy wizardry. And in the final phase there was Kapil Dev, with his plain, simple approach to cricket and calculations, lifting Eddie Hemmings for four huge sixes in a spectacular sequence.

Twenty-four were required to save the follow on with Narendra Hirwani’s unconvincing form standing at the other end. Kapil got them in sixes.

400 runs in a Test

And now it was Gooch again, tearing into the Indian attack, as if he had not taken off the pads all this while. By the time the echoes of Kapil’s strokes had died down, Gooch was hitting the Indian bowlers all over the ground. Mike Atherton provided excellent foil, and in two and a half hours the two openers put on 204.

When Gooch drove one on the up and found extra-cover on the full, he had hammered his way to 123, scored off just 113 balls, with 13 fours and four sixes. Greg Chappell’s 247 not out and 113 against New Zealand at Wellington 1974 were left far behind. Gooch ended with 456 for the match. Since then only Mark Taylor with 334 not out and 92 at Peshawar in 1998 has come close. Brian Lara, with the only quadruple century in Test cricket scored against England at St. Johns in 2004, is the other batsman to score over 400 in a match.

What followed

Given the situation, the Indian approach to the last innings can be variously termed brave or foolhardy. Yet, the chronicler’s fingers yearn to give them the benefit of the doubt. They were perhaps snared by the spirit of the Test match, the magnificent manner of run-making which seemed to herald back to the high noon of Edwardian Golden Age. And not too many spectators complained about their eventual defeat by a considerable margin.

Set 472 to win, in the final morning India were quickly three down with not too many on the board, but Dilip Vengsarkar and Azharuddin batted for an hour with fluency and flamboyance that hinted at hopes of winning the match. As many as 51 runs were added at four an over.

It was only when a Hemmings delivery outside the off-stump came back to take the hesitant glove of Vengsarkar on the way to the ’keeper that the hurtling Indian progress was halted. Wickets started to fall and from 114 for three, India slumped to 181 for eight. A late charge by Sanjeev Sharma, 38 from just 36 balls, managed to enliven the last bit of this memorable match and took the match total past the 1930 epic.

As was apt, the end of the match was brought about by Gooch in the middle of the second session of the final day. With Hirwani at the other end, Sharma desperately darted for a single to keep the strike off the last ball of the 62nd over. The throw from the England captain uprooted the middle-stump, catching the Indian medium pacer way short of ground.

The match ended with 1,603 runs and 28 wickets, runs rollicking at 57.25 per wicket, with six hundreds  and three fifties, with the five days sparkling with 197 fours and 12 sixes.

Brief scores:

England 653 for 4 decl. (Graham Gooch 333, David Gower 42, Allan Lamb 139, Robin Smith 100*) and 272 for 4 dec. (Graham Gooch 123, Michael Atherton 74) beat India 454 (Ravi Shastri 100, Dilip Vengsarkar 52, Mohammad Azharuddin 121, Kapil Dev 77*; Angus Fraser 5 for 104) and 224 (Sanjeev Sharma 38; Angus Fraser 3 for 39) by 247 runs.

(Arunabha Sengupta is a cricket historian and Chief Cricket Writer at CricketCountry. He writes about the history and the romance of the game, punctuated often by opinions about modern day cricket, while his post-graduate degree in statistics peeps through in occasional analytical pieces. The author of three novels, he can be followed on Twitter at http://twiter.com/senantix)