When India come to play at Lord's every England cricket fan is reminded of the first Test back in 1990, famous for Graham Gooch’s record-breaking score of 333.
The then captain hit England’s first triple-century in over 50 years and followed it up with a second-innings hundred to set the record for the most runs in a single Test – which is still to be surpassed. However, Gooch knows it could have been so different on the day.
Reflecting on that famous game 24 years ago, which also marked the first time we saw Sachin Tendulkar in action on these shores, Gooch told ecb.co.uk: “They won the toss and made the decision to bowl first. I had a bit of luck; I got dropped by Kiran More on 33 or 32 and after that it went pretty well.
“It was challenging but once you get over the first session at Lords it’s a good pitch.”
Despite the early scare and losing his opening partner Mike Atherton for just eight, the Essex opener progressed serenely first with David Gower at the other end, followed by Allan Lamb and Robin Smith who also hit hundreds.
As the pitch flattened out, there seemed to be nothing stopping Gooch from reaching the elusive triple-century and the right-hander was so wrapped up in the game, he forgot about the world record – something he came to regret later on.
Recalling that period of play on the second day of the Test, he said: “The nervous time for me came just before tea because only once before had I gone beyond 250 in a first-class match and I was hell-bent on getting to the 300.
“After that my only thought was to get some quick runs and we were going to declare. But after being dismissed by (Manoj) Prabhakar and getting to the dressing room, our manager Micky Stewart gave me a dressing down saying ‘what are you doing getting out, you were only 30-odd runs away from the world record!’, but I didn’t really think about that until afterwards.
“If I’d have thought about it at the time I would have tried to go for it without a doubt.”
It was not all plain sailing that week at Lord's however for England, who after posting 653 for four declared dismissed India just one run past the follow-on target after Gooch had claimed a catch off Kapil Dev that was given not-out by the umpires, a decision the still rankles with him.
“We missed out on making them follow on; I caught Kapil Dev at slip and he was given not out – I thought it was a clean catch – Kapil Dev then proceeded to hit Eddie Hemmings for four consecutive sixes and save the follow-on, so as a captain I was a bit miffed second time round and played accordingly and for me personally. It turned out really well.”
Gooch’s second-innings score of 123 was at more than a run a ball, and set India an unlikely fourth-innings target of 472. The match aggregate of 456 runs made by Gooch in that Test still stands as a record, but the achievement was made all the sweeter as England won the game by 247 runs.
Gooch, who went on to become the England batting coach, added: “If you wanted to watch a great Test match in terms of runs/wickets excitement, all that, then this was one of them and it was the first time we set eyes on Sachin Tendulkar as well, not that we knew he was going to be such an icon at that stage.”
However when looking back on the game and his records, Gooch downplays his own achievements: “When people ask me ‘what is your greatest achievement in cricket?’ I always say it’s not a personal achievement. When you’re asked to be captain of your country I don’t think you can top that as an individual.”
The modern-day England side will face India at Lord's again tomorrow, with Gooch’s protégé Alastair Cook leading the team as his mentor once did.