Fowler recalls Gower mishap
David Gower’s captaincy was undoubtedly a key factor in England’s last successful Test tour of India.
However, Graeme Fowler - one of several star performers during that 1984-85 series - has revealed one particular decision by the skipper was not exactly the tactical masterstroke it may have seemed.
Fowler feels Gower was the “perfect person” to lead the side on a tour that started with the tragic assassinations of Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and Deputy High Commissioner Sir Percy Norris.
“I have to say that David Gower was a brilliant captain under those circumstances,” Fowler told ecb.co.uk.
“Being very experienced and the sort of bloke he is, he just calmed everything down and was the right man at the right time.”
Yet the right man was in the wrong place on day three of the fourth Test at Madras, when Fowler’s mammoth innings of 201 - and a partnership of 241 with fellow double-centurion Mike Gatting - finally came to an end.
“The press said it was a brilliant piece of captaincy by Gower to send Allan Lamb (who made a breezy 62) in at four,” Fowler explained.
“The truth was that Gower had been sitting with his pads on for hours, ever since Gatt went in, and he had actually gone to the bathroom.
“The wicket went down, and people shouted, ‘Gower! You’re in,’ but by the time he had come round the corner Lamby had legged it to the middle, because he didn’t want to wait.
“All the papers said it was a great tactical decision by Gower - the fact is he was on the toilet and Lamby just beat him to it!”
The captain was not the only player to find himself in the smallest room at an inconvenient time during England’s stint in the sub-continent.
“I lost half a stone three times in India,” added opening batsman Fowler. “Once in Madras through batting, but also in Delhi and Kanpur with the trots.
“In Delhi (where England won the second Test to level the series) I was in bed when we were fielding.
“They rang me up and told me: ‘you had better make it to the ground because they are eight wickets down and you’re going to be opening the batting.’”
“I felt terrible, but I got a tuk-tuk to the ground, got changed and by the time I had padded up I was going in to bat.
“We didn’t need that many, won the game and I went straight back to bed for another three days.”
Fowler also has vivid memories of the following Test in Calcutta, albeit for different reasons.
“It was the most boring draw in the world,” he recalled. "We had smog, mist and drizzle and on the fourth morning India were still in their first innings. They just batted and batted.
“There were people just sitting down in the field by the end because it was that boring. I was walking on my hands in the covers and Phil Edmonds took a newspaper out to read!”
Thankfully, such tedium was not commonplace on a tour that provided satisfaction for England’s players on and off the field.
“We had a good bunch of people and we had a lot of fun. It was a really happy tour,” said Fowler.
“Like any tour of India, you have great highs and great lows. We stayed in one hotel and it didn’t have a kitchen, so for our team meal one night we had a fried egg each.
“You’re trying to play Test cricket and what has your evening meal been? One fried egg! I think things have changed a bit since then, but you got used to stuff like that and just got on with it.
“It gave you that added dimension in terms of team spirit as we were all in it together. The bunch of people we had really got stuck in.”