An Interview with David Gower
David Gower Interview
How do you go about choosing the 50 greatest cricketers of all time? As David Gower tells us with, great difficulty. The former England captain talks about his new book counting down the game’s best ever players.
As a former ashes winning captain and cricket hall of fame inductee, not to mention the scorer of over 8,000 test match runs in a 14 year international stint, David Gower enjoyed a career the envy of most English cricketers. So it stands to reason that the batsman-turned broadcaster knows a thing or two about the game.
His new book, David Gower’s 50 Greatest Cricketers of All Time, goes about proving just how much he does knows by counting down the best half century of players the game has ever produced, complete with anecdotes and inside stories, in the definitive list of cricket stars – as the 64-year-old sees it.
And if whittling down the hundreds of contenders into just 50 and then counting them down in order seems like a thankless task, then that’s precisely because it was. “The thing with lists is that they are never perfect,” Gower says. “We started with a list of names, added a few more contemporary players in, then just move them all around on a magic board deciding who is better than who. It’s a never ending process because one day you think that x is better than y, then the next day you think the reverse, then you move somebody else down 20 spots, and eventually you get to a deadline. And then you can’t shuffle them around anymore!”
“Number One of all time”
The book surmises that legendary figure Don Bradman is the best player to have ever lived, one of 13 Australians to make the cut, the most from a single country. There are four West Indians in the top 10, while there are seven Englishman in the list, with only Kevin Pietersen from the modern era.
Gower says that deciding between the claims of contemporary players and the historical giants of the game, particularly how they would adapt to modern techniques and forms of the game, was the most difficult aspect. “There were and have been some fantastic players over the ages. Although I’m not old enough that I can claim first-hand experience of all of them! Inevitably, you have to go on other people’s opinions. Bradman is the number one of all-time. He never played ODI’s, he never played T20, but he did everything so much better than everyone else of his era you have to assume he’d be the same today. So it’s almost algorithms. But it’s algorithms without the maths.”
It’s an interesting, at times controversial list which that will make for lively discussion in the Sky Sports commentary box. Gower is joined by Aussies Shane Warne (number four on the list) and Ricky Ponting (34) and former England captains Ian Botham (12) and Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussein – neither of whom make the cut. Will the book not guarantee some needle among the commentators?
“Well there’s no guarantee that any of them will have read it! And Atherton and Hussein are well aware that they don’t deserve to be in the world’s top 50. They’re not upset. The line is that anyone not in the book is of course number 51. So there are a lot of number 51s who didn’t make the cut despite their obvious talents and qualities.
“The only man I’m worried about is Botham. He won’t take kindly to being just behind Imran Khan. They were great rivals. But as I explain in the introduction, Imran wins it just on captaincy. As a leader of his country he was outstanding. So I just had to give it to Imran which will not be agreed with by Ian. But when I see him I’m not showing him the book!”
‘David Gower’s 50 Greatest Cricketers of All Time’, published by Icon Books Ltd, is out now