(4/5) DAVID GOWER
The fluffy-haired, ethereal-looking young man who pulled his first ball in Test cricket for four in 1978 was to be England’s most consistent and consistently exasperating batsman of the 1980s. Other batsmen go in and out of form: Gower always seemed to play the same – beautifully, until the moment, he made a mistake. Sometimes, the erring moment was put off long enough for him to play an innings of unforgettable brilliance. He played 117 tests for England and made 8231 runs with an average of 44.25 scoring over 18 Centuries. A left-hander with a strong top hand, Gower’s strokes had a liquid, graceful feel: in an era of buffers, he was a caresser. When he edged a catch, he would be damned as irresponsible but, with his style, the difference between an exquisite stroke and a nick was little more than an inch. His character appeared as uncomplicated as his cricket, but his devil-may-care attitude hid some complexities, even perhaps an inner loneliness. Lazy journalists called him “laid-back” but you don’t score 8231 Test runs without a cladding of steel. He retired prematurely into a career as a TV personality so successful that his cricket seemed mere preparation.
Engineer. Ardour for Cricket