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Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Why I hate former England cricket captain Mike Gatting

Almost certainly the most overrated cricketer of all time (especially as a captain) is Mike Gatting. It is impossible to convey what a useless captain Fat Gatt was for those who didn't witness his 23 matches in charge. He won just two (2) games as captain. True he lost "only" six, but that was sufficient to lose every series of which he was in charge, except one (and this is the reason for which he is rated out of all proportion to his talents and achievement): against Australia, when he retained the Ashes won the previous year by David Gower.

Even that success was a poor achievement: Australia had one of their weakest teams ever, and England should have won 3-0 or 4-0. There was even an opportunity for a rare victory in Perth, but Gatting blew it with his overly defensive fields when England had a huge first innings score. But because of his role in retaining the Ashes down under, every time there was another monumental cockup in the 90s, Gatt would be dragged out by some lazy journalist to be asked where Gower/Gooch/Athers/Stewart etc. had gone wrong.

Gatting lost home series to the might of India and New Zealand, two teams that have never travelled well. Add to that his disgraceful behaviour in Pakistan, quite unworthy of an England captain whatever the provocation; his desertion of an England team of which he was a member in the middle of an Ashes series in order to prop up apartheid in return for a bucketload of rands; and his stupid, ignorant, and borderline racist dismissal of anti-apartheid protests as "just a lot of singing and dancing" and you get the picture of a failed captain and a flawed, shallow human being.

As a player, too, he was quite useless for a long period at the start of his career and for a long time at the end of it, when he continued to be picked despite clearly deteriorating eyesight and footwork. The majority of his good innings for England came in an 18-game period in the middle of his career, in which he was briefly England's most reliable batsman and best player of spin. The latter reputation was completely wrecked, of course, when he ran into Shane Warne:

Gatting was a hugely overrated player and captain, but he is not an overrated commentator. That's because no one rates him at all in that capacity. His difficulties with the English language make Derek Pringle's Daily Telegraph columns read like E.W. Swanton. My favourite Gattingism: "He lampooned that one to the boundary!"

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