Cricket: From young Essex man to work ethic man

Stephen Brenkley charts a quarter of a century in the hair-raising exploits of a cricket crusader
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The Independent Online
1973

Makes debut and only appearance of summer for Essex in July at Westcliff, scoring 18 batting at No 5 as Northants are beaten by seven wickets. Bob Cottam is first bowler to claim his wicket, having an lbw appeal upheld. Moustacheless.

1974

BECOMES regular in county side and records maiden century at Chelmsford against Leicestershire, his 114 seeing Essex home by two wickets chasing 242 after being 156 for 6. "Still has some way to go... but certainly appears blessed with the ability to succeed," says Wisden. Upper lip still clean- shaven.

1975

AFTER scintilliating start to season appears in first Test against Australia and is only third England player in history to make pair on debut as tourists, after being inserted, win by innings and 85 runs. Dropped after two matches and on return to county fails to recapture form. Well-rounded, full Zapata- type 'tache and Seventies hairstyle below ears.

1976

BEGINS season with dismal run but from July onwards does not look back. Registers three centuries, including career best 136 at Westcliff, scores 1000 runs for first time at average of 42.43. Opens for first time, at Lord's but soon reverts to middle order position. Moustache neatly trimmed, just covering lip.

1977

PLAYER of great expectations takes several backward steps, averaging only 25.82 in scoring 782 runs. Talent not in doubt but rashness is frequently his undoing and Essex, 101 years old, remain without trophy. 'Tache thicker but still short.

1978

CONVERTED to opener he is immediate success and second-wicket partnership of 329 with Ken McEwan (then a county record) leads to England recall against Pakistan. Shares century stand with David Gower, in his second Test. Stays in side for rest of summer, chosen for tour of Australia. Moustache unchanged.

1979

DESPITE disappointing tour in which top score is 74 in 11 Test innings he secures Test place in summer against India. Wonderful one-day form embracing imperious 120 in B & H Cup final. Essex win that and their first Championship. Moustache longer and straighter.

1980

NAMED a Wisden Cricketer of Year. Rapturous ovation greets maiden Test century in his 36th innings. He is utterly commanding in making 123 out of England's 269 in the second Test against West Indies at Lord's. Averages above 50 for county. Moustache grows fuller and more circular.

1981

IN unforgettable Ashes summer, Gooch barely contributes, dropped for final Test after making 139 runs in 10 innings. But Championship form is awesome with five thunderous hundreds in nine matches. Sunhat prominent. Initial signs of stubble on chin to accompany moustache.

1982

AFTER personally successful series in India - which England lose - he rocks game by leading rebel tour to South Africa. Banned from international cricket for three years. Makes record limited overs score of 198 in B and H Cup, takes best bowling figures of 7 for 14. Stubble removed after sporting beard in SA, moustache reverts to 1977 style.

1983

ESSEX win Championship from behind, scores three centuries in final month to help secure title, finishing with 1,227 runs. Also sets record with 176 in Sunday League. Hundred in August marks birth of daughter Hannah, born previous day, Gooch slipping away from fielding duties to be present. Moustache begins to curl up at edges.

1984

CHAMPIONS once more and Gooch enters his pomp. More than 2,500 runs - the first in eight years to pass the mark - with seven hundreds including career-best 227. County also win John Player League. Stays king of the sunhat. Moustache takes on fully-fledged guardsman's look.

1985

RECALLED by England in triumphant reclamation of Ashes. Has comparatively low-key series until making majestic 196 in final Test at Oval, puts on 351 with old buddy David Gower. In NatWest Trophy shares record partnership for any Lord's final of 202 with Brian Hardie. Moustache carefully waxed at ends, stubble makes big comeback.

1986

SUFFERS along with everybody else on England's disastrous spring tour of West Indies. Back home in England scores a century apiece against both India and New Zealand but summer made by triumphant appointment as Essex captain. Noted for audacious approach, title regained. Moustache upturned and bristling.

1987

MISSES entire season of Test cricket after deciding against winter tour. of Australia. Endures lean time with Essex, gives up county captaincy though still topping county averages. Moustache matured, and slightly shorter than hitherto.

1988

BACK in the England side against West Indies: returns with a century and ends series as the side's fourth captain in his 67th Test. They lose but he impresses having given up county captaincy. Scores career best 275 in Championship. Moustache imperious, hair displaying first signs of thinning.

1989

BACK as Essex captain, dropped as England's captain (following cancellation of winter tour to India) for Ashes series which proves disastrous. Given torrid time by Alderman, lbw five times in nine innings. Reappointed captain of England for winter tour. Sunhat faded but intact. Moustache still as dark as Groucho's, distinct gap in hairline.

1990

ELEVATED to national hero. England win first Test for 16 years against West Indies. Desperately unlucky to lose series. In summer scores 333 and 123 in Lord's Test against India, 753 runs in series. Tops national averages for only time, best player in world. 'Tache long and drooping, hair in big trouble.

1991

AUSTRALIAN tour disastrous. Breaks finger, misses first Test, falls out with Gower over attitude and flying plane over ground. At Leeds in summer plays one of all-time great Test innings, 154 out of 252, to help procure win over West Indies. Essex take title. Moustache thick but peppery, hair receding alarmingly.

1992

PLAYS another epic innings at Leeds as ball tampering row erupts in ill- natured but riveting series with Pakistan. Leads Essex to sixth Championship title. Sunhat faded and less prominent. Moustache looking thicker and more stately to compensate for a serious loss on cranium.

1993

RESIGNS as England captain after Fourth Test. Out handled ball in First Test, drops down order in mid-series. Scores hundreth hundred, against Cambridge Univ. Country's leading runs scorer for fourth time, becomes England's top runs scorer of all time. Moustache jaunty and circular again, hair disappearing.

1994

THREE double hundreds including one against New Zealand but signs of waning powers at Test level. Becomes only sixth player to score two hundreds in match on five occasions. Quits county captaincy. Moustache smartly styled and upturned takes eyes off bare scalp.

1995

GOES with England to Australia but a tour too far. Retires from international game at Perth with massive ovation and score of four. Remains force with Essex. Cap replacing sunhat. Moustache now resplendent as hair takes back seat and chin has less five o'clock shadow.

1996

BECOMES England selector. Takes all before him for county with eight hundreds, is top run getter for fifth time and leading Englishman in averages. Enters top 10 leading scorers in history. Moustache thoroughly dignified and well-groomed and hair makes huge return with transplant.

1997

ANNOUNCES retirement after poor start to summer. Ends as leading scorer for England in Tests and one-day matches and of all time in NatWest Trophy, B and H Cup, Axa Law League. Hair restored by transplant. Goodbye moustache. Looks like boy who stepped out in the 70s. But he will never bat like him again.

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