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My Life at Middlesex - Mike Gatting

over 3 years ago | Uncategorised


I remember playing my first [second XI] game at 15, and I got nought first ball against Kent at Ealing CC. I thought that was it, end of my career, wishing the world would gobble me up and whatever. My teammates at Brondesbury [Cricket Club] were very good. A call later came through from Don Bennett [Middlesex coach] saying, “A guy’s not turned up, can you get Gatting down to Hove as quickly as possible?’ And on my second outing, I managed to get some runs. It was just a question of doing what needed to be done: get some runs in the second team and learn as quickly as possible.


It was against Yorkshire at Lord’s. I was on 99 and swept Phil Carrick for four up to the Grand Stand to go to 103. I can’t remember getting any more after that! The next match I got another hundred against Derbyshire and having played a year or so in the first team without getting a hundred, I managed to get a couple quite quickly. I felt, myself, that I was in a much better place having got a hundred. Knowing how to get one was obviously the hard part, but having got one and being there, it was almost like a button was switched on. You realised you could do it, and those kinds of things were important to me. It was another bit of the learning cure where you get to a situation of believing in yourself. That’s half of the problem. I was trying to feel like part of the team and was able to contribute at that particular time.


The side that had Vintcent van der Bijl with Wayne Daniel. We didn't lost a game till about June [1980], the semi-final in the Benson & Hedges [against Northants]. I was actually batting at that time with Vintcent, and we were just knocking off the final runs, but Vinny sadly had an attempt to try and whack Peter Willey out of the ground and couldn’t clear the boundary, and he was probably our last hope because he was batting quite well. Sadly we ended up losing that game and that signalled a bit of an upset in the team because we then lost our first League game. Fortunately with the quality of players we had in the team we managed to improve and got ourselves out of the rut, managed to win some games and go on and win the Gillette Cup and the Championship.


It was interesting and very demanding. We had a lot of strong characters in the team and it was never boring. It was an open dressing room. People always appreciated that because they were allowed to say what they thought, and if you did that you were able to open up to a response from somebody else. Generally speaking it was a very good atmosphere, a very tough atmosphere. Everyone was allowed to say what they thought and it seemed to work well.


It was my first year as captain and we hadn’t got very many [in the Benson & Hedges Cup final at Lord’s]. We’d got 190 or something [196], mainly due to Clive Radley [89*]. I remember I got run out – my fault, nobody else’s! It was quite an interesting game in that we were losing quite comfortably. They were 90-1 before tea and somehow we managed to win it. All the bowlers, including the spinners, did a magnificent job, Wayne Daniel came on and got a wicket, Norman Cowans came on and got a couple of wickets [finishing with figures of 4-39]. It was just an awesome effort from everybody. That for me was probably one of the best games I played in. We had no right to win it from where we were.


Losing the cup [NatWest Trophy] final we all thought we were winning against Warwickshire at Lord’s [in 1989]. It was one of the few we lost and quite a devastating day. We were going well till the last over when Simon Hughes bowled a slower ball and Neil Smith managed just to reach it and got the leverage. Instead of it being a dot ball, it flew over the boundary for six and that effectively lost us the game. No fault of Simon. It was just one of the one-off things that can happen in a match; he [Smith] was nowhere near the ball and he managed to hit it over the boundary. And we lost a match I thought we were always winning. As they say, it’s not over till the fat lady sings.


The rivalry with Essex was fantastic. They had a really good team. The Essex game was the one you always wanted to be involved in. They were the team that were competing the most with us in terms of trophies at that time, so we were always battling hard against each other, and in the end we had some fantastic games. There was a lot of respect mutually from both sides to each other and you only have to look at the teams. Fletch [Keith Fletcher] was their captain, a fantastic captain and he did a great job with the team. That was it, that was the game to play. It was a local derby and more than that, two teams willing to go toe to toe and slug it out.

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