What was your most memorable playing moment?
That one’s easy enough – my proudest moment really, going back to the Oval in 1985, was standing on the balcony with the Ashes – or what looked like The Ashes anyway – in my hand; it’s never the real thing, just a very good replica. But The Ashes being what they are, the historical significance and all the rest of it, standing there as an Ashes-winning captain is what stands out.
Which sporting events would you love to attend?
Wimbledon is very high up on that list; I love my tennis, it’s the only game I really play nowadays. I’d actually quite like to go to Paris to watch the French Open, combine a bit of Paris and a bit of tennis.
I hate golf, as a player. I cannot abide playing the game. I think it’s been misspelled, and it should have been ‘flog’. But, I admire the people who play it. I went to a Ryder Cup years ago, the only problem being of course that there are so many people around you that you can’t really see much actual golf. I love my rugby too – I try to get to Twickenham when I can, where I love the atmosphere.
If you could have played any other sport for England, what would it have been?
The simple truth is that it was never an option. Hypothetically… rugby. I might just have got away with it when I was a young man, but I’d hate to do it nowadays – it’s brutal!
Of all your former Sky Sports colleagues, who would you most want to share a room with on holiday?
In my early days of touring, we had to share rooms – it was only sort of halfway through my career that we actually got the privilege of a room to oneself. I once shared a room in a game park in South Africa with Ian Botham, about five years ago. We were at one of our favourite lodges, but they were pretty full so we had to double up – that was an interesting experience…
You batted against arguably the best ever bowling attack – in a few words, can you describe what it was like seeing Garner, Holding, Marshall or Roberts barrelling down the wicket?
It is the quickest way to cure a hangover! Every now and then, one might have a drink or two the night before facing them to calm the nerves. They were awesome. In terms of the history of the game I don’t think there’s been a more potent attack than them. Yes, there are others who’ve been as quick individually, and others who’ve had pairs of bowlers who’ve been very effective, but I think for persistent pressure, I’d still give them the accolade of the most fearsome attack ever. Not by an absolute margin, but enough is enough. And they were enough!
Of today’s players, who do you think would be the most intimidating to play against?
Let’s stick to Test cricket… India are a really challenging side to play against now, particularly in India. Winning in India is a tough old thing to do. But that’s always been the case – back in the day Kapil Dev was a pretty handy bowler! But the pacemen now are quicker, they’re fitter and stronger. And the spinners are still interesting! But combined with the absolute brilliance of Virat Kohli as a batsman, their attack is probably as good as it’s ever been.
Of your 18 Test centuries and seven ODI hundreds for England, which do you remember the most fondly?
I’ll give you two. 157 I think it was, at the Oval in 1985. That was the final test of the Ashes series, and as a batsman and as a captain that’s what was needed to set up victory in the final game to win The Ashes, so that has the significance of the context… and it was also a bloody good innings actually! And another similar sort of number, 154, against the West Indies in Jamaica in 1981, as it remains my only 100 against that famous attack.
Who was your favourite batting partner?
Of all the players I played with for England, one of my better mates over the years was Allan Lamb. It’s one of those quirks, we normally got our runs on different days, we actually didn’t have an awful lot of big partnerships together. But apart from being a very good player, Lamby was always good fun to be out in the middle with. I liked people at the other end who could look beyond the immediate business of the game. In other words, you’ve got 30 seconds at the end of each over to chat about something, and I preferred people who didn’t chat about the game, and Lamby was definitely one of them. We’d talk about anything – food, wine… it’s 30 seconds to switch off. You can say an awful lot of things out there if you’re there long enough.
Do you have a particular favourite broadcasting moment?
We were there in Australia when Andrew Strauss’ team won the Ashes back, in what was a really good tour for England. And we sat there the day after the final test in Sydney – which is one of my favourite cricket grounds – doing a sort of review of the series for Sky, and it gave us all sort of a ‘warm glow’ to watch that, it was a really good tour. People always argue about which series was better, more interesting, more valuable, but I just remember that as being a really nice experience just being there. Watching Andrew lead the side, everything falling into place, all the work at the start. Everything working out.
Read our interview with David Gower on travel here.