Graham Gooch will be forgiven for having mixed emotions every time one of his pupils goes out to bat for England — his own batting record is under threat.
But Gooch, who has more runs (8900), more centuries (20), and a higher score (333) than any of the current England batsmen, is happy if his records are broken. “As far as I'm concerned I'll be absolutely delighted if someone goes past any of my records,” said Gooch, “because it'll mean England is winning cricket matches. From the time I was a captain, player and selector, I was only interested in one thing, and that was England winning matches.”
Gooch has been vital to the success of the current batting line-up, considered by many to be the best England has assembled. He has reduced batting to its basics, and put in tireless hours of analysis and throw-downs. His job, he says, isn't to teach England to bat; it's to teach England to make runs.
Example of Cook
He illustrated the difference with the example of Alastair Cook, who he has invested the most time in. “Alastair continues to improve,” said Gooch. “You see all the hard work he puts in. It doesn't come by chance; it's hard work and ability, and he's getting the rewards. We are proud of him.
“He has the four attributes that make up a ‘run-maker'. He has a great attitude; he has technical ability; his knowledge pool is increasing all the time, of how to play in certain situations; and he has the No. 1 attribute, massive powers of concentration. If you want to score 200, you can't do it in an hour; you've got to be out there for six or seven hours. You've got to play every ball singly for all that time — each ball in isolation.”
Gooch stressed the importance of fitness. “Being fit, mentally strong and having character goes side by side with having a good technique and the natural ability to score runs and take wickets. I've never seen a fitter, stronger player become a worse player.”