Cricket: Gower dumped but Gatting recalled: England 'rebels' return to the fold for the winter missions as selectors spring a few surprises

Martin Johnson,Cricket Correspondent
Monday 07 September 1992 23:02
Comments

THE latest, possibly last, and certainly the most puzzling chapter in David Gower's England career yesterday revolved around his omission from a winter tour party for the third time in four years. His supporters may well feel that he has had the book thrown at him for matters less closely related to cricketing criticism than to literary criticism.

Two of the selectors responsible for the most bizarre tour selection for many years, Graham Gooch, the captain, and, in particular, the outgoing team manager Micky Stewart, were both criticised by Gower in his autobiography, although both the selectors and Gower himself said yesterday that the book had nothing to do with his absence from the list of 16 players to tour India and Sri Lanka.

Leaving aside the probability that this places them in a substantial minority, the reason advanced by the England chairman Ted Dexter, and the new team manager Keith Fletcher, was as thin as Gower's hairline. In a party led by a 39- year-old, and including the recalled 40-year-old off-spinner John Emburey, the 35-year-old Gower, we are asked to believe, is too old.

Fletcher said yesterday that the selectors, having not hestitated in recalling Mike Gatting, who is two months younger than Gower, were worried about the possibility of Gooch, Gatting and Gower all retiring from cricket at the same time, and leaving a hole in the side's batting experience.

When and if this might be, they were unable to say, and in the entire history of England cricket selection, it is doubtful whether there has ever been a more fatuous reason advanced for the omission of an individual. Worried about all retiring together? What on earth has this got to do with attempting to win a Test series in India?

Dexter, whose public utterances are becoming as vacuous as his public appearances are becoming rarer, merely offered a haughty: 'I will not be discussing why players are not selected, but will be delighted to comment on those who are.'

The England chairman, who at the time of Gatting's defection to South Africa in 1989 made comments not too far removed from suggesting they all be sent to the Tower, has not only welcomed back Gatting and Emburey from those who took the rand, but also, to general bewilderment, Paul Jarvis. The more cynically inclined might feel that an aeroplane ride to Johannesburg is less of a misdemeanor than a spin in a Tiger Moth.

Whether or not Gower's comments in the book counted against him, he will not be feeling too well disposed towards the publishers this morning. The book was not due to be on sale until Thursday, but thanks to the fact that the publishers sent it out to wholesale distributors well ahead of schedule, it has been available for public consumption for some time.

Gower was officially told by Gooch yesterday morning, but might already have known his fate given that a squad picked last Friday, but, nonsenically, not announced until yesterday, had enough leaks in it to keep a plumber in work for the winter.

After making an important 73 on his Test recall at Old Trafford this summer, and a crucial 31 not out to steer England to victory in the Headingley Test, Gower said yesterday: 'I really thought I had done enough.' Gower, whose winter plans may now involve commentating for Channel 9 in Australia, added, barely able to conceal his bitterness: 'I would have hoped the team would be selected on quality and experience, but it seems these things are not important any more.'

The selectors clearly think so. Gower is a class act, and quite where England think they are going to gather more runs without him is difficult to fathom. Even Gatting, who has been out of Test cricket for three years, averaged 20 from his previous 17 Test innings before his exile, Robin Smith has barely made a Test run abroad, Graeme Hick's Test average is 18, and Neil Fairbrother's is eight.

The selectors might be thankful that the Gower issue will have had so many people spluttering into their pints in the pub last night that one or two other eyebrow-raising decisions might have sneaked through without less of an outbreak of public snorting than might otherwise have been the case.

Jarvis, the 27-year-old Yorkshire seamer, has not taken five wickets in an innings since 1989, and was dropped by his county a couple of years ago for allegedly not trying. Lord Ted was at his best when describing this one.

'He has had a little bit of a sketchy period recently, particularly as regards his fitness.' Ah well, that's all right then. Once the selectors had decided that there were only two worries concerning Jarvis - form and fitness - in he went. Ye gods.

The next item on the agenda was the abolition of wicketkeeping. Alec Stewart, the vice-captain, and Richard Blakey, of Yorkshire, will share those duties in India, while Jack Russell has been appointed vice-captain of the A tour to Australia. The selectors wittered on yesterday about this being an indication of how highly they rated him. Others may view it as a sop.

At least Dexter was honest enough to say that by not selecting Russell for India, it saved Gooch the problem of having to drop him. 'Historically,' Dexter said, 'Russell plays, and then loses his place.' Historically, the captain goes on tour and stays there, but Gooch is returning to England after the Indian leg, and handing over to Stewart for Sri Lanka. 'He finds it hard being away from home, and for all he has done for English cricket, we granted his request for an early return,' Dexter said.

There is no surprise, given the amount of one-day cricket on the itinerary, in only two spinners - Emburey and Phil Tufnell - but the inclusion among the quicker bowlers of Northamptonshire's Paul Taylor is almost as much of a stunner as Jarvis.

The last time a P Taylor was named in an international squad was in Australia in 1986-87, when so little credence was given to Peter Taylor's name being read out for the fifth Test against England, that Channel Nine interviewed Mark Taylor instead.

Taylor would have been more or less a complete unknown had he not played in the NatWest Cup final on Saturday, and Fletcher admitted that he had personally not seen much of him. However, there was always a case for including a left-arm bowler by way of variety, and with Mark Illott's advancement regarded as more suited to the A tour, Taylor got the vote.

He played for Derbyshire, without distinction, in the mid-80's, before playing Minor Counties cricket with Staffordshire, and is only in his second season at Northampton. 'We are taking a bit of a flyer,' admitted Dexter, whose general air of sagacity at yesterday's press conference did not entirely correspond to having to be prompted as to the identity of the A tour manager, Norman Gifford. At times like this, you wonder how England ever win a match.

ITINERARY: Jan 3 v Ranji champions (3 days), Faridabad; 8 Indian Board President's XI (3 days), Kanpur; 13 Indian Board President's XI (1 day), Indore; 16 First one-day international, Ahmedabad; 18 Second one-day international, Jaipur; 21: Third one-day international, Delhi or Chandigarh; 23 Indian Youngsters Under-25 (3 days), Cuttack; 29:

FIRST TEST, Calcutta (no rest day); Feb 5 v Rest of India XI (3 days), Vishakhapatnam; 11: SECOND TEST, Madras (no rest day); 19 THIRD TEST, Bombay (no rest day); 26: Fourth one-day international, Bangalore; March 1: Fifth one-day international, Jamshedpur; 5 Sixth one-day international, Delhi. 6: Travel to Sri Lanka; 10: First one-day international, Colombo; 13: TEST, Colombo (Rest day 16 March); 20: Second one-day international, Moratuwa; 21: Return to London.

Martin Johnson collaborated with David Gower in the writing of 'Gower, The Autobiography'.

(Photograph omitted)

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in