January 15, 2002

Three Englishmen at home in India

The England side is back in India after a break, and they are currently preparing in Kolkata for the one-day internationals. The break has pushed many issues to the back burner, and the main thing to be seen now is if the visiting side can win the one-day series. They will quite obviously be short of match practice, while the Indians have just played for the Challenger Trophy in Bangalore. Nasser Hussain is sure to have drawn up a game plan to choke the Indians, and it remains to be seen what his counterpart does, in terms of both strategy and batsmanship. England have shown a lot of grit in India over the years, and although the current team lack extraordinarily talented cricketers, it has sufficient spirit and determination.

David Gower
© Stamp Publicity
When talking of talented cricketers from the British Isles, the names of Ian Botham and David Gower spring to mind. Botham was a tremendous crowd-puller all over the world, as was Gower. The Indians got a chance to see him in action in 1981, in the Jubilee Test at Bombay, which he won for his side almost single-handed. Though many of his followers may have failed to pronounce his name correctly, they were on the money when it came to his achievements.

If Botham was the hero for his aggressive brand of cricket, Gower was the people's favourite for his elegance and fluent touch with the bat. Gower's performances dictated the mood swings of his followers, and at the end of the day, they were content to see him out in the middle. The irony in Gower's case was that he was generally dubbed as a "laid-back," and this description apparently did not please him. Mind you, his record does indicate that he did things right somewhere down the line. It was a pity that these two players ended their careers in a run-of-the-mill way. Their attitudes did not go down well with the team management at the time, resulting in their being dropped. Their exit was not on their own terms, and they called it quits when they realised that they were not going to get back into international cricket.

Geoff Boycott
© CricInfo
Another former English legend whom the Indian public did not get to see much of was Geoffrey Boycott. Although he figured in a few Tests in the early 80s, he broke off in the middle of the Indian tour under Keith Fletcher, and one got the impression that he was eager to tour the subcontinent during his career. Fate has decreed that Boycott spend more time in the sub-continent as a commentator, and his Yorkshire accent has made him a favourite with the viewers in this part of the world. His analysis and his forthright views are refreshing, although his detractors might find it strange that he talks about how runs should be scored quickly by batsmen to set up a victory.

Be it Gower, Boycott or Botham, they are all aware of the difficulties in a cricketer's career, and they ensure that they do not run down the current lot. They have chosen their own way of expressing their views, with objectivity being the main criterion. These renowned cricketers have kept in touch with the game after their retirement, and they continue to entertain and enlighten television viewers with their pleasant comments and insightful observations. As the saying goes, men may come and go, but this trio will go on for ever.