Former Essex and Ilford star Graham Gooch rewrote test cricketing history

Graham Gooch with Ravi Bopara during his time as England batting coach (pic: Gareth Copley/PA)

Graham Gooch with Ravi Bopara during his time as England batting coach (pic: Gareth Copley/PA) - Credit: PA Archive/Press Association Ima

It was 31 years ago that Graham Gooch rewrote English Test cricketing history.

The England batsman and favourite son of Essex Cricket sent records tumbling when playing against India at Lord’s  over five days between 26th and 31st July.

Born in Whipps Cross, ‘Goochie’ played for Ilford CC on his way to becoming the highest first-class runs scorer for Essex (30,701) in history.  

Amongst a plethora of wonderful memories and fantastic achievements during his career,  it was this particular day in July – the 27th – and just 4 days after his 37th birthday, when he completed his innings of 333 – the sixth highest score in Test cricket and third best for England. 

He went on to set the Test record for the highest match aggregate (456) when becoming the first batsman in any first-class fixture to follow a triple hundred with a century, a combined aggregate of runs that embraced  the third highest tally of runs in boundaries in a Test innings.  

Graham Gooch hits out on his way to a century in the 1979 Benson & Hedges Cup final (pic PA)

Graham Gooch hits out on his way to a century in the 1979 Benson & Hedges Cup final (pic PA) - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images


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Apart from his weight of runs, he took a vital wicket, held two catches and then figured in the final wicket to fall in the match when he executed a run out that wrapped up the England victory. 

It was little wonder his performance made his nomination as Man of the Match the simplest decision for those charged with deciding such awards. He was in a class of his own.

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Yet just ahead of his milestone Lord’s involvement, Graham played for his beloved county against Lancashire at Castle Park, Colchester.

Essex won by 6 wickets and Graham recalls the match. “Yes, I got 177 in that game when Lancashire set us 348 to win,” he said. “It was a classic run chase of that era. 

“We were playing three day Championship games then and they were often really exciting. You would often be left with a total to chase which made for an exciting game of cricket in terms of pursuit of points.

"It was exciting for the players and spectators and you don’t see much of that nowadays because, generally, to win a game, you have to bowl a team out twice and take 20 wickets. 

“In those days, there was only one day between the last day of a Championship match and the start of a Test match.

“I had scored a lot of runs that summer, conditions for batting were ideal”

Days later and Gooch had underpinned England’s highest total against India and teamed up with Allan Lamb for the third wicket to add 308, a record partnership for any wicket against India.

“To have the opportunity to be able to bat long enough to have the chance to score a triple hundred is rare and obviously when I got to 300, there was inwardly the self-gratification because very few people have anywhere near the opportunity to do that. 

“It’s a lovely milestone to have against your name.”

England finally declared on 653-4 dec before India reached 454 narrowly escaping the follow-on.

That allowed Gooch to post other record-breaking achievements as he and Michael Atherton extended the lead by 208 and a record opening stand by England against India.

Gooch became the first player to score five Test hundreds at Lord’s with 123 in the second innings.

Challenged with mammoth target of 471 to win with 110 overs available, India adopted a go-for-glory approach that failed dismally against some outstanding fielding and consistently accurate bowling.

Their quest ended with a slick run out executed by Gooch who, as England captain,  was able to celebrate his fourth Test win in seven matches.

“I ran Sharma out from mid-on and  that is even rarer than the 300, me running someone out,” Gooch laughed. “That put the seal on a game that had my stamp on it.”

And what did guru Graham do to relax after such demands in that Lord’s Test? Feet-up perhaps or a few days away to recover? No way.

His mode of recovery was to play for Essex later that week at Southend where they met Nottinghamshire. He top-scored in the first innings with 87  and followed with an unbeaten 65 in the assisting  the  county to a 10-wickets victory. 

A true maestro, a legend and a genius!

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