Gary Lineker: I was 112 not out at lunch…and then I went and scored a hat-trick

FROM THE MAG: Gary Lineker sat down to lunch with David Gower – and Editor of The Cricketer Magazine Huw Turbervill – with football, cricket and the BBC on the menu

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David Gower writes every month for The Cricketer magazine. This is an abridged version of his interview with Gary Lineker that features in our December 2022 issue. To read the full version, grab a copy of the magazine by clicking here.

On Test vs. White Ball

Gary Lineker: Cricket is good at the moment, isn’t it?

Though Tests are finishing earlier I suppose…

David Gower: Beefy would love it – tee-off times at 10am on day four!

GL: I love Test cricket, and so do my four boys.

T20 is good for the game overall, but Tests feel proper. When you get a great Test match it’s something special… those fourth-innings run-chases by England… ‘Let’s go for it, we don’t care!’

You’d have been good at T20, David…

Huw Turbervill: Would you have done all those reverses and scoops?

DG: Id have learned it! They play them from a young age now.

GL: I take it facing the white ball is easier…

DG: It doesn’t swing as long.

GL: Can you see it more clearly?

DG: Yes… It’s different, though.

HT: Would you have batted like Dawid Malan, David?

GL: Except he can’t spell David… And could Dawid Malan fly a Tiger Moth?

DG: We were chatting in Lahore during the T20 series and Ben asked if I’d ever played in Pakistan. I said I’d scored a century, 152, in a Test match for England in 1983/84 in Faisalabad (not to mention the 173 not out in Lahore in the next Test!).

He looked it up and then laughed when he saw that it took 318 balls! Too slow apparently!

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David Gower and Gary Lineker reunite over lunch

Garys cricket career

GL: I never got to play that much. Do you remember the day Jonny Bairstow was keeping? He was 12. Years later I realized who he was and how good he’d become…

DG: I remember a match where you scored runs, kept wicket and took a glorious flying catch on the boundary, basically p*ssing off every professional within about 100 miles…

GL: That was one of my favorite days in sport… doing that in front of proper cricketers!

HT: What about when you played cricket then football on the same day for Spurs?

GL: David English rang and asked me to play for the Bunburys the next day.

I said “Dave, I’m playing West Ham at White Hart Lane tomorrow night. It’s the last pre-season friendly.”

He said “How about you open the batting then go?”

“Alright then!” It was at Finchley, and Courtney Walsh was opening the bowling alley. He bowled me a jokey bouncer which landed in his own half of him. He then walked back two paces and I said: “Courtney, I want you to bowl me a proper over.”

He said “Really?” I said: “Yeah, proper!”

First one whistled past me. I left the second. He was sensible, bowling on a good length, outside off.

I managed a couple of forward-defensives but last ball I got brave. I figured he’d bowl it on the same spot, so I flew at it and ‘bang’, it steamed through the covers for four. A glorious moment. I was 112 not out at lunch.

I said: “Dave, I have to go!” He said “You’ve done me proud!”

And then I went and scored a hat trick. What a day. I did have lots of failures as well!

DG: We like Gary as a person, but stories like that do make us sick.

Footballers as cricketers

HT: You captained Leicestershire Schools right through – could you have made it as a pro?

GL: I’m not sure. I went to City of Leicester Grammar School and watched a lot of matches at Grace Road.

David was my hero, even though he’s only four years older than me. I remember getting his autograph from him.

I honestly thought as a kid that I had way more chance at cricket.

HT: Like Phil Neville…

GL: Andrew Flintoff said Phil was the best he’d seen at that age group, better than Sachin Tendulkar! Who wants to be a full-back hacking?

DG: It’s one of those existential conversations… should he have gone for the aesthetics of creaming it through the covers or the money you get for hacking someone down just outside the box?

HT: There has been Denis Compton, Jim Cumbes and various people good at football and cricket…

GL: If you are good at one sport with hand-eye coordination then you tend to be good at others. John Barnes and Glenn Hoddle were good at cricket. Mark Hateley. Gazza was alright too.

One year we played against the MCCC… Mexico City Cricket Club, and we absolutely beat them.

It was the year before the 1986 World Cup there. I scored a fifty, I think me and Barnesy saw us through.

Sir Bobby Robson loved cricket too. At about that time I had to play five games a year for two years for the real MCC, and I did alright, so I got membership as a player.

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John Barnes and Gary Lineker after the match against Mexico City CC which the England footballers won by eight wickets at the Reforma Athletic Club in June 1985 [Bob Thomas Sports Photography via Getty Images]

On the BBC

HT: Does criticism of the BBC and your contract get you down Gary?

GL: I try not to let it. The same old people have a pop at me. I don’t have any respect for them.

The BBC are obliged to publish my wages every year. I’m nowhere near the highest-paid. I do things openly – other people do it through their production companies.

You’ll always get BBC bashers, though. I’m contracted for another three years. I still have energy and enthusiasm. I dondon’t feel old.

I have told my sons that the first one to make me a grandfather will be written out of my will!

Inside ours December 2022 issue of The Cricketer magazineyou‘Lalso find:

George Dobell previews England‘s return to Test action in Pakistan, headlined by our interview with Mark Wood
Mike Selvey fears England‘s new approach will exclude great talents
Dickie Bird and Geoff Boycott are reunited… in Barnsley
John Etheridge recalls the magic of Waqar and Wasim in 1992
Barney Ronay pay tribute to Virat Kohlis ‘shot in a million
Tanya Aldred wonders how long England can resist Rehan Ahmed
Whispering Bob Harris tells us why he loves cricket
– Our Christmas Gift Guides solves your present-buying woes
– And much, much more…


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