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Cricket World Rewind: #OnThisDay - Graham Gooch begins Test career with a pair

Graham Gooch
Graham Gooch
©Reuters

July 12, 1975 - Graham Gooch is one among 37 men to have bagged a pair on Test debut, but he couldn't have chosen a bigger stage as he registered the unwanted record in the first Test of an Ashes series.

 There are not many who go on to play 100 or more Test matches for their country and still fewer who play top flight cricket for more than 20 years. Among the few, two notable names who pass through both filters are Sachin Tendulkar and Graham Gooch.

There is another striking similarity between the two greats of the game. While Gooch bagged a pair on Test debut, Sachin was dismissed for ducks in both of his first two ODI games.

Playing for Essex as a youngster, Gooch had a reputation of a batsman who hit the ball hard and hit it more often than not. He was just 21 when England gave him an opportunity. Gooch's debut was against Australia at Birmingham in the first Test of the Australia tour of England in 1975.

England were desperately looking for some class in their batting line-up after failing badly in the last series against the Aussies, and showed faith in the youngster.

 

 

England's start was not auspicious after captain Mike Denness won the toss and put Australia in. The decision was informed by overhead conditions rather than the pitch. England had not won a Test match after choosing to bowl first in an Ashes Test since 1911-12 and the record wasn't going to be broken in this match either.

The ball did move around a bit but Australian openers Rick McCosker and Alan Turner held their own and walked back to the pavilion only at lunch with the score reading 77 for no loss. Despite some good bowling from Geoff Arnold and John Snow, half-centuries from Ian Chappell, Ross Edwards and Rod Marsh and a late 49 from Jeff Thomson took Australia to 359.

By the time debutant Graham Gooch came to the crease, England were already struggling at 46/3 with Dennis Amiss, Keith Fletcher and Mike Denness already back in the hut. Gooch did not last long, caught by wicketkeeper Rod Marsh off Max Walker on just his third delivery in international cricket.

Jeff Thomson and Max Walker took five wickets each to bowl out England for just 101. Following on, the next time Gooch took the field, England were at 18/2 with John Edrich and Mike Denness having lost their wickets. This would turn out to be the last Test of the England captain.

This time around, Gooch lasted seven deliveries and was caught yet again by wicketkeeper Rod Marsh off Jeff Thomson. England went on to lose the match by an innings and 85 runs.

The youngster scored a total of 37 runs in the next Test but was dropped from the side. A recall came three years later and he was successful in scoring a half-century. His first Test ton came in the form of 123 in 1980 at Lord's.

Gooch went on to become the most prolific run-scorer for England with 8,900 runs from 118 matches at an average of 42.58. The batsman scored 20 centuries and 46 half-centuries in his glittering career.

Alastair Cook surpassed his tally in May 2015 to become the highest run-scorer for England in Test cricket. It was an emotional moment for Gooch as he had mentored Cook right from when he was a schoolboy to the heights of Cook's career.

Gooch did not hit the ground running in Test cricket but he finished his career as one of the most respected cricketers to have served England.

 

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