England v India, 4th npower Test, The Oval, 1st day August 18, 2011

Gooch credits hard-working England

19

It's not often that a team's challenge can be written off inside 26 overs, but India's performance on a rain-hit first day at The Oval was apathetic beyond compare. In his first Test for three years, RP Singh proved to be a wayward and sluggish shadow of the tearaway who starred on his last England tour in 2007, and though Andrew Strauss had a scare when an Ishant Sharma bouncer chipped the peak of his helmet, the shock of that moment served only to exacerbate the dross that went before it.

None of that, however, mattered to England's batting coach, Graham Gooch, whose legendary appetite for run-making has been absorbed by a relentless line-up that has carried England to the top spot in Test cricket. In the day's solitary session, Gooch's Essex protégé, Alastair Cook, nudged his average above 50, as he and Strauss confirmed the wisdom of ignoring the overhead conditions, and trusting the firmness underfoot of a typical Oval wicket.

By the close, Cook was 34 not out, having scored 1630 runs at 90.55 in the 12 months since he rebooted his career with a dogged 110 on this very ground against Pakistan. Although he modestly batted back the suggestion that Cook was one of his "charges", Gooch's personal input has been one of the most significant factors in Cook's rise and rise - from their 6am training sessions in the off-season at Chelmsford, through the endless hours of throwdowns prior to every Test match, and ultimately via the insatiable appetite for run-scoring that, even in this era of prolific batsmen, leaves Gooch's England record tally of 8900 runs some 3000 clear of the nearest contemporary challenger.

"As far as I'm concerned I'll be absolutely delighted if someone goes past any of my records," said Gooch, "because it'll mean England are winning cricket matches. From the time I was a captain, player and selector, I was only interested in one thing, and that was England winning matches."

At Cook's current rate of progress, that mark will be overhauled at some stage in the next three years, and quicker still if India continue to feed his strengths to the extent that they did during his 294 at Edgbaston and again during a supremely untroubled first morning at The Oval. "Alastair continues to improve," said Gooch. "You see all the hard work he puts in. It doesn't come by chance; it's hard work and ability, and he's getting the rewards. We are proud of him."

"He has the four attributes that make up a 'run-maker'," Gooch added. "He has a great attitude; he has technical ability; his knowledge pool is increasing all the time, of how to play in certain situations; and he has the No. 1 attribute, massive powers of concentration. If you want to score 200, you can't do it in an hour; you've got to be out there for six or seven hours. You've got to play every ball singly for all that time - each ball in isolation."

During his days as England captain in the early 1990s, Gooch attempted to instil a greater discipline in England training sessions - but found that his methods were rejected by a prevailing culture that did not appreciate such a rigid onset of professionalism. Twenty years on, the England set-up is ready to embrace his driven ethos, and his involvement with the team is reaping its overdue rewards.

"Under Andy Flower, the coaching staff like to stimulate the players and challenge them with new practice routines," said Gooch. "We're always looking to push the boundaries and test the players, not just in technique but in their minds as well - to move them forward as people and cricketers.

"When you play you do what you think is right for you, and everything in good faith. That is certainly what is happening now, and everyone buys into the system. Everyone knows what they need to do. Being fit, mentally strong and having character goes side by side with having a good technique and the natural ability to score runs and take wickets. I've never seen a fitter, stronger player become a worse player."

India's cricketers could do with a dose of such realism at the end of a flaccid campaign. Like Zaheer Khan in the first Test at Lord's, RP Singh looked short of the requisite fitness for Test cricket, as indeed did Virender Sehwag, whose continued involvement in the tour had been shrouded in mystery before the toss.

"The Indian line-up is tried and trusted, with some of the greatest names the game has ever seen," said Gooch. "They've not got the runs they would have liked but I'm sure they'll be out there in the nets tomorrow." Whether they are there at 8.30am, however, like Gooch and his England batsmen, remains very much to be seen.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RohanMarkJay on August 20, 2011, 20:48 GMT

    You can see Graham Gooch's strong influence written on this England team very clearly. No wonder Graham Gooch was Allan Border's favourite cricketer outside Australia. Its a shame England didn't make the most of Graham Gooch when he was a Capt and player for England. England might have done better in the late 1980s and 1990s.

  • KarMani on August 19, 2011, 13:08 GMT

    I find it funny that we have already written the Indian team off after one bad series. Remember that India was ranked No 1 since Nov 2009. England have just got it and still have to prove themselves in the sub continent. Lets see how long they can keep the crown.

  • aracer on August 19, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    @Sumedh Shah - "Were else has England played except at home???" - Australia. Remind me again how well India have ever done when they visited there?

  • AJ_Tiger86 on August 19, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    @Sumedh Saha, LOL. You know very little about international cricket, I see. Where were you when England DESTROYED and HUMILIATED Australia 3-1 in Australia with 3 INNINGS VICTORIES?

  • indianzen on August 19, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    India are the emperors in Subcontinental pitches, similarly England are good in the English pitches... nothing so excellent, England cant win even against Pakistan in Pakistan...

  • on August 19, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    Mensan, i honestly don't think these are 'huge home advantage' pitches like you seem to think. Sure, India have struggled but a massively seam friendly pitch doesn't allow either team to pile on 700+ runs like England did.

    Fact is, India have been woeful. I hope for their fans sake this is an eye opener for their board to do something about their problems like the Ashes domination was for us back when

  • Dozzieus on August 19, 2011, 8:42 GMT

    @ Sumedh Shah...... do you actually know anything about cricket.... let me suggest that you read up on something called THE ASHES where england won this last winter IN Australia, a place where india cant win...

  • PeterCook on August 19, 2011, 8:20 GMT

    Sumedh Shah - are you joking? Have you forgotten the Ashes in Australia? England thrashed Australia 3-1 (three wins by an innings).

  • on August 19, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    Were else has England played except at home??? Let them come out of England and den see how they lose top spot!!!!

  • on August 19, 2011, 3:57 GMT

    Big up to Gooch, the guy's a legend and just like Andy Flower is someone the players can really look up to and respect. India need to take note, but mostly their bowlers. You can win matches when you're only scoring 280 but only if you bowl sides out. Letting them rack up 700 gives you no chance.

  • RohanMarkJay on August 20, 2011, 20:48 GMT

    You can see Graham Gooch's strong influence written on this England team very clearly. No wonder Graham Gooch was Allan Border's favourite cricketer outside Australia. Its a shame England didn't make the most of Graham Gooch when he was a Capt and player for England. England might have done better in the late 1980s and 1990s.

  • KarMani on August 19, 2011, 13:08 GMT

    I find it funny that we have already written the Indian team off after one bad series. Remember that India was ranked No 1 since Nov 2009. England have just got it and still have to prove themselves in the sub continent. Lets see how long they can keep the crown.

  • aracer on August 19, 2011, 9:40 GMT

    @Sumedh Shah - "Were else has England played except at home???" - Australia. Remind me again how well India have ever done when they visited there?

  • AJ_Tiger86 on August 19, 2011, 9:12 GMT

    @Sumedh Saha, LOL. You know very little about international cricket, I see. Where were you when England DESTROYED and HUMILIATED Australia 3-1 in Australia with 3 INNINGS VICTORIES?

  • indianzen on August 19, 2011, 8:59 GMT

    India are the emperors in Subcontinental pitches, similarly England are good in the English pitches... nothing so excellent, England cant win even against Pakistan in Pakistan...

  • on August 19, 2011, 8:55 GMT

    Mensan, i honestly don't think these are 'huge home advantage' pitches like you seem to think. Sure, India have struggled but a massively seam friendly pitch doesn't allow either team to pile on 700+ runs like England did.

    Fact is, India have been woeful. I hope for their fans sake this is an eye opener for their board to do something about their problems like the Ashes domination was for us back when

  • Dozzieus on August 19, 2011, 8:42 GMT

    @ Sumedh Shah...... do you actually know anything about cricket.... let me suggest that you read up on something called THE ASHES where england won this last winter IN Australia, a place where india cant win...

  • PeterCook on August 19, 2011, 8:20 GMT

    Sumedh Shah - are you joking? Have you forgotten the Ashes in Australia? England thrashed Australia 3-1 (three wins by an innings).

  • on August 19, 2011, 6:22 GMT

    Were else has England played except at home??? Let them come out of England and den see how they lose top spot!!!!

  • on August 19, 2011, 3:57 GMT

    Big up to Gooch, the guy's a legend and just like Andy Flower is someone the players can really look up to and respect. India need to take note, but mostly their bowlers. You can win matches when you're only scoring 280 but only if you bowl sides out. Letting them rack up 700 gives you no chance.

  • AzyS on August 19, 2011, 1:49 GMT

    it was indeed a very poor start in the first over itself and i have never seen this side of the indian team in recent times.. seems as if they are just waitin for the tests to end and get the series done and dusted with... this is not the hallmark of a champion side..

  • Chris_P on August 19, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    Gooch is the pin-up the aging Indian superstars should be emulating. His batting efforts after passing 35 years of age were incedible and this results are there to be seen that so much extra work must be done when reflexes and eyesight begin theur inevitable decline. Gooch stood out like a beacon in that pathetic English side of the early 90's yet was always castigated for his hunger to be fit.

  • mensan on August 18, 2011, 23:54 GMT

    "...tearaway who starred on his last England tour in 2007". A tearaway?? He always looked like a club level bowler to me at least.

  • mensan on August 18, 2011, 23:44 GMT

    I would also praise ECB. Well done for making BETTER pitches to get the home advantage. I remember when New Zealand shredded India to pieces in the fateful home series of 2002-03 by making seaming wickets. NZ won both tests (with India making 161, 121, 99 and 154 in the four innings) and one dayers 5-2. BCCI rebuked NZC and threatened of dire consequences. By the time India landed again in NZ after a 6 year absence, NZC had accepted BCCI bullying position in world cricket. They "chose" not to make seaming pitches this time just to please BCCI. The result was NZ tamely losing the 3-test series 1-0 and one day series 3-1 on subcontinent like pitches. ECB deserves credit for not succombing to the bullying BCCI (and so called huge TV market!!) and making pitches which suited the home side more.

  • Patchmaster on August 18, 2011, 22:06 GMT

    IND bowlers are unfit, overweight and not used to anything but IPL - they look ordinary and must be an embaressment to any IND test cricket fans, if there are any left....

  • kumarcoolbuddy on August 18, 2011, 20:30 GMT

    As long as India doesn't jump onto good performance ENG people will keep on giving statements like this. They are winning so they are giving statements. India definitely has talent it's the matter of implementation with confidence and proper selection.

  • on August 18, 2011, 19:36 GMT

    runs are not scored by reputation alone.

    they got the reputation because they scored the runs mate..

  • bumsonseats on August 18, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    gooch was instrumental in all the prematch workout that england do as standard these days. guys like botham and gower would frown on then, but comes as 2nd nature these days. dpk

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on August 18, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    "I've never seen a fitter, stronger player become a worse player." Never a truer word spoken. Take heed Indian legends - runs are not scored by reputation alone.

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • FreddyForPrimeMinister on August 18, 2011, 18:53 GMT

    "I've never seen a fitter, stronger player become a worse player." Never a truer word spoken. Take heed Indian legends - runs are not scored by reputation alone.

  • bumsonseats on August 18, 2011, 18:55 GMT

    gooch was instrumental in all the prematch workout that england do as standard these days. guys like botham and gower would frown on then, but comes as 2nd nature these days. dpk

  • on August 18, 2011, 19:36 GMT

    runs are not scored by reputation alone.

    they got the reputation because they scored the runs mate..

  • kumarcoolbuddy on August 18, 2011, 20:30 GMT

    As long as India doesn't jump onto good performance ENG people will keep on giving statements like this. They are winning so they are giving statements. India definitely has talent it's the matter of implementation with confidence and proper selection.

  • Patchmaster on August 18, 2011, 22:06 GMT

    IND bowlers are unfit, overweight and not used to anything but IPL - they look ordinary and must be an embaressment to any IND test cricket fans, if there are any left....

  • mensan on August 18, 2011, 23:44 GMT

    I would also praise ECB. Well done for making BETTER pitches to get the home advantage. I remember when New Zealand shredded India to pieces in the fateful home series of 2002-03 by making seaming wickets. NZ won both tests (with India making 161, 121, 99 and 154 in the four innings) and one dayers 5-2. BCCI rebuked NZC and threatened of dire consequences. By the time India landed again in NZ after a 6 year absence, NZC had accepted BCCI bullying position in world cricket. They "chose" not to make seaming pitches this time just to please BCCI. The result was NZ tamely losing the 3-test series 1-0 and one day series 3-1 on subcontinent like pitches. ECB deserves credit for not succombing to the bullying BCCI (and so called huge TV market!!) and making pitches which suited the home side more.

  • mensan on August 18, 2011, 23:54 GMT

    "...tearaway who starred on his last England tour in 2007". A tearaway?? He always looked like a club level bowler to me at least.

  • Chris_P on August 19, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    Gooch is the pin-up the aging Indian superstars should be emulating. His batting efforts after passing 35 years of age were incedible and this results are there to be seen that so much extra work must be done when reflexes and eyesight begin theur inevitable decline. Gooch stood out like a beacon in that pathetic English side of the early 90's yet was always castigated for his hunger to be fit.

  • AzyS on August 19, 2011, 1:49 GMT

    it was indeed a very poor start in the first over itself and i have never seen this side of the indian team in recent times.. seems as if they are just waitin for the tests to end and get the series done and dusted with... this is not the hallmark of a champion side..

  • on August 19, 2011, 3:57 GMT

    Big up to Gooch, the guy's a legend and just like Andy Flower is someone the players can really look up to and respect. India need to take note, but mostly their bowlers. You can win matches when you're only scoring 280 but only if you bowl sides out. Letting them rack up 700 gives you no chance.