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Anorak | Rising From The Ashes

Rising From The Ashes

by | 31st, July 2003

‘HERE’S a question for you – in the 67 Test matches that England played under the captaincy of David Gower, Mike Gatting and Ian Botham, how many did we win?

Five Test wins as captain between them

The answer? Only seven. That’s right – just seven matches and those were confined to just three series.

In 1984-5, England (under Gower) won twice in India to take the series 2-1 and followed it up with three wins over Australia to take the Ashes series 3-1.

They next won a Test in Australia in 1986-7 where Gatting recorded his only two Test match wins as captain in what is up to now England’s last Ashes triumph.

Botham, of course, failed to win a single match of his 12 games in charge.

All of which should at least put some of the criticism Nasser Hussain (with 17 wins) has received as captain into perspective.

The golden age of English cricket is a myth – or at least it is so long ago that most people can barely remember it.

In fact, Hussain’s record as England captain bears comparison with anyone since Mike Brearley.

Alec Stewart won only four of his 15 games in charge, half as many as he lost; Mike Atherton won 13 but lost 21; and even Graham Gooch had a win-loss record of just 10-12.

Apart from Hussain, the only full-time captain since Brearley to have a positive win-loss record is Bob Willis, who won seven, drew six and lost five of his games in charge.

It is Hussain’s misfortune (and those of his immediate predecessors) that he has played against Australia when they have been at their peak.

Both Gower and Gatting are (incorrectly) remembered as successful captains of England because they both managed to win Ashes series.

Brearley is revered because he won three of the four series he played against Australia.

What is forgotten is that he never captained England against the West Indies, the dominant side of the time, and that his job against Australia was made easier by the Packer rebellion.

It should also be remembered that Brearley’s Test average (mainly coming in as an opening batsman) was a lamentable 22.

History will, I think, be very kind to Hussain’s captaincy. What it makes of his successor could well depend on how he fares against the oldest enemy of them all.



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