Friday, 15 February 2019

Former England cricket captain back in the middle

Former England cricket captain back in the middle

FORMER England cricket captain David Gower will talk about his life and career at the Kenton Theatre in Henley.

His one-man show, On The Front Foot, will touch down at the New Street venue on May 31, the final appearance of his debut solo UK live tour.

Gower, 61, is often described as one of the most stylish left-handed batsmen of all time and is now the lead anchor on the Sky Sports Cricket channel.

But his show is not all about his life on the pitch. Gower says: “It’s a journey through my life, and not just my time playing or commentating on cricket. I spent eight years of my life growing up in South Africa and through that developed a love for wildlife and conservation.

“We will go through good times and bad, serious stuff and fun, I hope it will be entertaining and educational and at the end of it people will learn something new about me.”

Gower was born in Tunbridge Wells in 1957. His father, Richard, was working for the Colonial Service in Dar es Salaam, capital of the then British administered Tanganyika Territory, now Tanzania, where Gower spent his early childhood. The family returned to England after Tanganyika was granted independence, when Gower was six, settling in Kent and later moving to Loughborough. Gower attended prep school at Marlborough House School in Hawkhurst from the age of eight to 13, where he started to lean towards cricket as his preferred sport.

Gower said: “The two cricketers who inspired me, though I never tried to emulate them were Gary Sobers and Graeme Pollock. I was seven when my Dad took me to my first test match at Trent Bridge. I saw Graeme Pollock score a century. Ten years later I was on tour in South Africa and saw him, he scored a century. Then I actually got to play against him, he scored a century — I didn’t!

“From the age of about eight, I was probably the best at cricket in my only small pond. But that is true of many people in various fields all through the years. I scored my first century in my last year at prep’ school — I scored 103 not out against Boarzell. I still have a copy of the scorecard — I keep it at home in the downstairs toilet, along with other sporting memorabilia.”

Gower was awarded a scholarship to attend The King’s School in Canterbury, where his father had once been head boy. He made the school cricket First XI aged 14 and he was later made captain and also played rugby for the First XV.

He finished with eight O levels, three A levels and one S level. He sat the history exam for Oxford University and was offered an interview at St Edmund Hall, but missed a place. Spurning a place at University College London, he returned to school in an attempt to gain two more A levels but lost interest part way through the year.

Having played some matches for the Leicestershire Second XI the previous summer, Gower tried his luck at the club as a professional for the remainder of the year, for £25 per week. In the summer, Gower returned to UCL, where he studied law, but after six months he returned to cricket.

Gower said there was little chance of him not trying to make it in cricket. He recalled: “I actually went to University to read Law, I just didn’t do much reading and when I came to the exams there wasn’t a lot to write — cricket won out. Interestingly, my Roman Law lecturer, Professor Thomas was an MCC member who I often saw in the Long Room at Lords. On one occasion he did say to me ‘I think you made the right decision’.”

Gower went on to enjoy one of the most prolific first-class cricket careers in English history, playing 117 Test Matches and 114 One Day Internationals scoring 8,231 and 3,170 runs respectively.

He played domestic cricket from 1975 until 1993, largely with Leicestershire until 1989, when he moved to Hampshire. He was a stalwart batsman at both clubs.

Since then he has enjoyed a distinguished career as a broadcaster and journalist and he was also a team captain opposite Gary Lineker on BBC TV’s hit show They Think It’s All Over from 1995 to 2003.

Gower also reveals he has turned down Strictly Come Dancing three times due to work commitments.

He added: “Astonishingly, the first time I was asked to do it and couldn’t they then asked Darren Gough, and he won it; the second time it was Mark Ramprakash — he won it. I can’t remember the third. Of course, now I have the time to do it, I am about as mobile as John Sergeant!”

• Tickets for On The Front Foot are £21 from the Kenton box office on (01491) 575698 or www.kenton

Additional reporting by Phil Simms

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