This weekend sees the birth of a new feature on The Reverse Sweep. Our Cricket Heroes & Zeroes. Each week a new hero (hooray!) will be added on a Saturday, whilst a devilish zero (boo, hiss!) will follow on the Sunday; well that is the intention anyway. The aim is not to provide a long diatribe as to why a cricketer (or occasionally something else cricket related) is good or bad in our eyes, but to provide no more than five reasons why they are a Hero or a Zero.
So, to our first hero, which appropriately enough is our actual first ever cricket hero - David Gower.
Hero 1: David Gower (117 tests, 8231 runs at 44.25, 18 100s, 39 50s, HS 215)
Our first cricketing memory was the sight of David Gower creaming a glorious and effortless cover drive against India at Edgbaston in 1979. Gower scored 200 not out that day and we have been smitten ever since. Despite being a right hander, I used to stand with bat in front of the mirror, so I could try and replicate the shots I had seen my hero play. Funnily enough on the few occasions I tried it at the crease, I turned from a dour right handed opener into a exuberant left hander with a natural bon viveur!
Here are five reasons, why David Gower is a Reverse Sweep cricket hero:
Grace and elegance - Has there ever been a more graceful and elegant England batsman to watch than Gower? We certainly haven't seen one in over 30 years. We lost count of the number of brilliant innings he made and it all seemed to be so effortless.
He scored heavily against Australia- Gower scored half of his 18 test match hundreds against Australia, which certainly endeared him further to an impressionable young Reverse Sweep. We particularly enjoyed the summer of 1985, when as captain Gower struck 732 runs at 81.33 with three glorious hundreds as England won the series 3-1.
Joie de vivre - Whether it is batting, partaking in his love of drinking fine wine and vintage champagne, and now commentating, Gower applies natural bonhomie and joie de vivre to everything he does. This love of life probably led to one of our favourite incidents involving Gower, where he buzzed the ground where England were playing a warm-up game against Queensland in 1991 in a Tiger Moth.
A hark back to a bygone era - Gower's approach to batting and life in general would have been more at home at the time of the British Empire and cricket's golden age between the wars - an era we certainly would have preferred to live in ourselves. This is summed up by an assessment Scyld Berry made on Gower in 1984 "Gower might have been more at home in the 1920s or 1930s, cracking a dashing hundred for MCC, the darling of the crowds, before speeding away in a Bugatti and cravat for a night on the town" - Would there be a better way to live a life?
He had flaws - We like our heroes to have some flaws and Gower certainly had a few of those. Has there ever been a batsman who can look so good and so in command who could get out so often to a poor shot? It could certainly be frustrating to watch at times - just ask Graham Gooch! And Gower wasn't the greatest England captain ever either as the 1989 Ashes painfully showed. But these minor flaws do not diminish him in our eyes.