As the days get longer and summer draws in, cricket-fever is sweeping the country, not least because tomorrow, we welcome the ICC Cricket World Cup to England and Wales for the first time in 20 years!
We are beyond excited here at Collectology and it’s got us reminiscing the day we were lucky enough to meet one of the most renowned names in English cricket; Graham Gooch. I’ve been dying to share our exclusive chat with you and ahead of England’s match tomorrow, what better time?
Here’s the story behind meeting England’s most prolific batsman of all time…
With the release of the UK A-Z of Great Britain 10p coins in 2018, celebrating the very best of British culture, came a tribute to the beautiful game of cricket! This got us thinking about the collectability of cricket memorabilia as a whole and the iconic sportsmen at the heart of the game. It was clear that our next job was to create a unique, limited-edition piece paying tribute to the nation’s favourite sport and available exclusively to our collectors!
Now, autographed memorabilia is always at the top of any collector’s wish-list and we were not going to disappoint. After hours of researching tests, innings, runs and centuries, there was one name on the tip of all our tongues and we were desperate to get in touch with the legendary Goochie – talk about a long shot!
A happy coincidence – with football to thank!
Back in January, we managed to source Graham’s agency information and quickly fired off an email in what became the start of a series of fortunate events. Graham was more than happy to meet us for an exclusive interview and signing; news that was going to make my Dad green with envy when I told him! In fact, Graham would be visiting Bournemouth, the home of Collectology, for an upcoming football match between Bournemouth and West Ham so the timing was simply perfect; (for those of you that don’t know, Graham is a huge West Ham United fan – we won’t mention the final score of that match!).
Our catch-up with the captain
So, just a few miles from Collectology’s HQ, we met up with Graham, the internationally renowned former England cricket captain who held the record for runs scored for almost 12 years and is one of just 25 players to have scored over 100 first-class centuries. Armed with cricket commemoratives for him to sign and teeming with excitement, we got to know a little more about a national treasure…
After an exchange of pleasantries, we got down to details; here’s how it went:
Lauren: Who was the best bowler you ever faced?
Graham: There are two guys really, one Aussie and one West Indian. For a spinner, Shane Warne. He was a bit of a character and a great competitor but the best leg spinner to ever play the game. As a fast bowler, Malcolm Marshall had great pace and intelligence and took test match wickets all over the world with great stamina.
Lauren: How about your favourite batting partner?
Graham: I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that before. There are a lot of contenders but I think, for England, a true Yorkshireman, Geoffrey Boycott. He wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, bit of a marmite character, but when I restarted my test career in 1978 we opened the batting together and became good friends. He was a great technician and taught me a lot about the knowledge of the game.
Lauren: What is the best Test and One Day team you have played?
Graham: The West Indies throughout the 80’s, led by Clive Lloyd in the early days. They had some world class batsmen in Sir Vivian Richards, as he now is, and Gordon Greenidge and a dynasty of fast bowlers which lasted about 15 years. They were great role models and the West Indies reigned supreme in Test cricket during that era. Saying that they were probably the best one-day side as well because they won the first two world cups.
Lauren: Do you regard your 333 as your best innings?
Graham: *laughing* No. Longevity requires concentration and to score 300 is to concentrate for a long time and it’s not like other sports, one mistake and you’re out. My best was probably 1991 in Leeds, scoring 154 not out against the West Indies. The most satisfying innings is when your contribution wins the match for your team.
Lauren: What do you think of the current England team?
Graham: I’ve actually just come back from Sri Lanka where I watched England win the series 3-0 away from home. They played very well and I would say English cricket is on the up with exciting players and experienced players like Jimmy Anderson coming together in a settled side. They will be a force to be reckoned with during the Ashes and the World Cup this summer.
Lauren: Does 20/20 cricket mean that there will never be openers like you in the future? Do you wish it has been around in your career? Especially the money!
Graham: I think I would have enjoyed it. You won’t see as many players of the ilk of Alastair Cook who’s a traditional test match player because the modern game is all about a fast game and a quick score. Cricket players are now indoctrinated in that way really. The concept of franchise cricket is coming to the UK, I think, in 2020 and players in franchise cricket can earn good money so every modern player wants to play that kind of cricketer. It’s changed the life of the cricketer really.
Lauren: Does Test cricket have a future?
Graham: I think that’s a very astute question because the audience profile is changing so the game is changing. It will survive, I think, but in what form I don’t know because there is a lot of pressure from the shorter game, whereby players want to make themselves available for franchise cricket because of the finance available so there is a tendency to opt for that instead. But, most players bench-mark themselves on how they play in test-match cricket over T20. Players want to match the records of their idols before them.
Lauren: Favourite ever player from any era?
Graham: It’s difficult, but Garfield Sobers. He was the best in the game when I was growing up. A brilliant all-rounder and a great role-model.
Lauren: What involvement do you have in the game now?
Graham: I have two main roles really. I am an ambassador of Essex cricket which involves some corporate work looking for sponsors and generating support for Essex. I am also president of the Professional Cricket Association (PCA) which does a lot of work looking after the future and well-being of cricketers and even supporting past players who have fallen on hard times. They are a very good organisation looking after cricketers in general.
Lauren: That’s so important. Thank you so much Graham for chatting with us, it’s been fascinating!
They say that cricket is a gentleman’s sport and what a true gentleman he was. While we were with him, Graham signed some great cricket collector pieces for us including the brand-new official British Isles Cricket 50p Capsule Edition, issued in celebration of the 2019 Cricket World Cup.