England Legend Graham Gooch Looks Back On His 333 At Lord apos;s

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It was the summer when Italia 90 made the world fall in love with football again. But for cricket fans the highlight had nothing to do with Gazza's tears or Pavarotti's Nessun Dorma.
Instead it was all about Graham Gooch and one of the great Test performances.
Thirty years have passed since Gooch, then embarking on the golden autumn of his career that turned him into one of England's greatest batsmen, made the highest score in Lord's history in a classic first Test against [/news/india/index.html India].
It may not have had the historical resonance of the 1990 World Cup but it will always hold a special place in the history of English cricket and the home of the game.
It is 30 years since Graham Gooch hit the highest score in Lord's history against India
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Gooch's 333, then the sixth highest score in Test history, included three sixes and 43 fours in England's 653 for four declared and was made in 10-and-a-half hours of complete domination of the Indian attack.

And it came just after his 37th birthday, when most cricketers would be slowing down rather than climbing to a new level.
'How time flies,' Gooch tells Sportsmail when reflecting on the biggest week of his illustrious career. 
'It doesn't seem possible it was 30 years ago and your memory fades as you get older but I enjoyed every bit of my career and the last part was the best in terms of consistency and delivering good numbers.

And that summer was the start of that really.
'In the early days I probably didn't do as well as I should have done so to finish on a high when most people are probably past their best was something to be quite proud of.'
It was quite a high.
Gooch was always a prolific runscorer with Essex and before that second Test series of the 1990 summer he had averaged a respectable 37.92 in 78 Tests with nine centuries. 
Gooch's 333 included three sixes and 43 fours in England's 653 for four declared
But after his record-breaking achievements at Lord's, when he also scored one of his fastest and most fluent centuries in the second innings, he went on to average a superb 51.37 in 40 more Tests, with 11 hundreds.
'Two things happened towards the end of my career,' he says.

'I had a bit of a sticky patch through the late Eighties and never got going against Australia in '89 so I had to straighten up my technique. Geoff Boycott helped me quite a bit with that.
'And then I was given the opportunity to captain England.
Those two things were the catalyst to give me more responsibility and an extra incentive to lead. It had a very positive effect on me and I believed in myself more.'
Yet who knows what might have happened if Kiran More had taken the easiest of catches at Lord's when he had just made 36 of his 333 runs. 
'I just had a slice of luck,' Gooch shrugs.

'It was a straightforward catch for a Test wicketkeeper.
'But, as I used to say when we dropped people, you can't give a decent player two chances. If you do you're normally going to pay. 
'I don't think I was thinking after that drop "I'm going to go on and on now" but I'd learnt to get into a rhythm and to go on without changing my tempo or the way I played.'
Gooch's innings was made in 10-and-a-half hours of complete domination of the Indian attack

There were repercussions too for the unlucky bowler.

Sanjeev Sharma was playing in only his second Test for India and, after figures of one for 122 and two for 75, it turned out to be his last. 
'Who knows, if Kiran More had taken that catch my career might have been different,' says the 54-year-old Sharma. 
'But let me tell you, I was top scorer in the Indian second innings with 38!

More than Shastri, Sidhu, Manjrekar, Vengsarkar, Azharuddin and Tendulkar. How about that!'
There was little for India to laugh about as Gooch piled on the runs without a sniff of another chance after Mohammad Azharuddin had asked England to bat.
'It can sometimes be a difficult decision at Lord's,' said Gooch charitably.

'Most times the right decision is to bat but if the conditions are right it can go all over the place. So I can understand why people put the other side in there.'
One of Gooch's charges in a new England side has a different view.

Devon Malcolm, who had been given his Test introduction in the Caribbean earlier that year, was grateful not to be bowling.
'I don't know what Azharuddin was thinking putting us in,' says Malcolm. 'India read the pitch so, so wrong.

It was a batting track! It was one of those Nasser Hussain in Brisbane moments! 
'It was totally against the rules because they must have thought something magical was going to happen.
'The thing was, after we'd been to the Caribbean and done well, I thought our groundsmen would prepare pitches that were a bit more juicy because India didn't really have any fast bowlers.
'Instead they were flat and the ball didn't do anything.

But Gooch's innings was craftwork. He was masterful.'
Gooch leaves the field surrounded by fans after England's 247-run victory in the first Test
A view of the scoreboard after Gooch's marathon innings for England came to an end
Gooch was also reaching unknown territory.

'The only other time I'd got past 250 was two years before in what I think was the first county four-day game,' he says.
'We played at Chelmsford against Kent and they declared at 400 or so, which ended up being a mistake because we got over 600. 
'I gave it away on 275 so when I got past 250 at Lord's I thought 'I'm not going to give it away this time, I'm going to get 300.' There's not usually enough time in a game to get there.'
The big moment came just after tea on the second day when Gooch nudged Ravi Shastri off his legs for a single to reach 300. 
The BBC, in their wisdom, had left their live coverage to show the 4.05 from Ascot.

It was a serious error of judgment which this correspondent, then a young enthusiast glued to the match on television, has never forgiven.
Not that Gooch was worrying about that.
'I'd reached a milestone I never dreamed I'd get to and at Lord's of all places,' he said. 
'My mum and dad were there and I thought about them at that moment because they were my biggest supporters.

They would take me around to all my sports when I was a kid, like so many parents, and my dad introduced me to cricket at East Ham Corinthians.'
But soon after it was all over when Gooch played a tired shot at Manoj Prabhakar and was bowled.
He was one run short of Don Bradman's Test best of 334, three short of Wally Hammond's 336 and, frustratingly, 32 short of Garry Sobers' world record.
'I did get a rollocking from Micky Stewart when I got out on 333,' confesses Gooch.

'He said, "What are you doing? You should have gone on for the record." 
Gooch takes the acclaim of the crowd with a modest celebration upon reaching his triple ton
'I told him I'd just run out of petrol and to be honest I hadn't thought about that.

I just tried to accelerate the score. 
'On reflection I should have tried to get past Sobers but I was just interested in winning the game. Scoring runs and taking wickets mean that much more when you win.'
Back in the pavilion Malcolm watched in awe from an unusual vantage point.

'Lord's have always had absolutely fantastic lunches and Nancy, who used to manage the catering, was legendary but I would always resist them if it were a bowling day,' he says.
'But on the first day Goochie and the other guys just never looked like getting out so I went upstairs to the dining room and I just sat there watching the game on TV. 
'I went up for lunch and, to be honest, I went back at tea because there didn't seem any chance we'd be bowling any time soon. He was fantastic.

He had so much permanence about him.'
England were to win that Test but not before many more glorious performances and twists and turns. India hit back mainly through a century of rare class from Azharuddin, who was later to be caught up in a match-fixing scandal, and then Kapil Dev hit four successive sixes off Eddie Hemmings to save the follow-on. 
'I didn't go out with the intention of hitting four sixes but I did go out to attack Hemmings,' smiled Kapil.
Gooch was not amused.

'I had caught Kapil at second slip,' he insists. 'My hands were on the ground and it went straight in but there were no replays then and he said, "I don't think that's carried, I'll wait for the umpire's decision", which is fair enough. I had no problem with that.
Gooch pops a bottle of champagne as he celebrates his achievement and England's victory
'But then umpire Nigel Plews walked over to Dickie Bird at square leg and Dickie said the famous words, "Nigel I cannot help you." It didn't make me best pleased, I have to say, so when he hit four successive sixes and avoided the follow-on I went in for the second innings not a happy bunny. 
'I was spitting feathers.

But it worked out well in the end.'
Malcolm, though, thinks it was a blessing in disguise. 'I actually think Kapil saving the follow-on was pivotal to our victory,' he says. 'We were knackered and life would have been a lot tougher if we'd bowled again. 
'My remit was to bowl as quickly as possible, while poor old Angus Fraser was the workhorse.

He had bowled a hell of a lot in the first innings. 
'I'd done 25 overs and if I was going to come charging in again I needed a rest. So Kapil avoiding the follow-on helped us nail them good and proper.'
England did so thanks to Gooch's 123 off 113 balls second time around in an innings notable for an outstanding catch in the deep to dismiss Allan Lamb by a 17-year-old who was to go on to make quite a name for himself.

One Sachin Tendulkar. 
Then England dismissed India for 224 on the final day to win by 247 runs with poor Sharma being the last man to fall, run out, appropriately, by a direct hit from Gooch. The perfect end to a perfect Test and the start of a new era.
'England had a hard time in the Eighties and I can't praise Graham and Micky Stewart enough for what they did when they took over,' said Malcolm. 
'They changed English cricket.

Graham led by example and he put all these things into place which saw us train very hard. We thought 'at least there's a bit of direction here now'.
'We were thinking a lot more in the long term and to see where we are now, 30 years on, Graham and Micky were instrumental in putting that professionalism you see now into English cricket. 
Gooch is presented with a framed scorecard by MCC secretary Lt Col John Stephenson
'I'd like say a massive thanks to them for putting down those foundations.

Yes, in the Nineties we played against some fantastic teams and things could still go awry but there was more belief from when they were in charge.'
In 2014 Gooch's heroics were voted as the best performance in Lord's history but it was not his best Test innings. 
That came at Headingley the following year against West Indies as he went on to stake a claim to be the best of all England batsmen.
The man himself, now 66 and still as involved and enthusiastic about cricket as ever through his work with Essex, www.ergoplus.it remains understated when he looks back. 
'I just hope my performances are remembered and when I'm asked about my career I say, 'If I entertained people and gave them some pleasure that's good enough for me.'
Graham Gooch certainly did that in five memorable days at Lord's 30 years ago.
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