The England cricket team line up before leaving for Australia and the Ashes tour 1986/87

How many of Gatting's picks can you spot in this 1986-87 Ashes-winning line-up?

© PA Images via Getty Images

Best XI

My Beefy and my Lamby long ago

Mike Gatting picks a team from among the best cricketers he played with

As told to Scott Oliver  |  

Mike Gatting captained England in 23 of his 79 Tests and played in 92 ODIs, leading England to the 1987 World Cup final. He spent 24 years with Middlesex, scoring 36,549 first-class runs and winning 13 trophies. Here he picks the best XI he played alongside in red-ball cricket.

Graham Gooch
People always talk about Viv Richards imposing himself on the opposition; to a degree, Goochie did as well. He played the quicks well, he played spin well. He was never intimidated. He was a fighter. He always had positive thoughts going through his head. He would be aggressive, but with a plan. And if he got to 100, he wouldn't quit there. He'd want 200. He wouldn't give it away. That's the sort of person you need in there.

Desmond Haynes
I came close to picking Chris Broad: he had a phenomenal Ashes tour [in 1986-87] and he was a player the West Indies were always happy not to see in the team, but you can't look past Dessie Haynes, who I played for about five years with at Middlesex. He wasn't as strong against spin as against pace, and when he first came in, that's the way you'd look to get him out. Against pace it was a different story. Him and Gordon Greenidge go together, of course. Gordon was a much more stylish player, whereas Dessie was a fighter - probably more a player in my ilk. But when he got in, he would really impose himself.

Jacques Kallis
When I was captain at Middlesex, somebody said to me, "You've got to sign this guy Kallis." Wayne Daniel was still around at the time and Jacques, even as a young lad, could bowl as quick as Wayne, and he could swing it. And then we saw him batting, fielding - he was just an unbelievably gifted natural cricketer. Physically imposing as well. And eager to learn as much as he could, every single day. And he was full-on: when he was playing, he wanted to win. He was phenomenal. I don't think his stats as an allrounder will ever be overtaken.

Greenidge, right, loses out to

Greenidge, right, loses out to "fighter" Desmond Haynes © PA Photos

David Gower
He was just a wonderfully gifted player and a great fielder as well. Right from his first ball in Test cricket, you knew he was special. People said he was too laid-back, but when you got to know him you could see he was very passionate about the game and had clear thoughts: he'd go out there and try his best, and if he got out he'd try and analyse it, but after that he'd be back to relaxing. He didn't fret, but that didn't mean he didn't care. He was one of the best players of my era, and he proved it many times over. There was nobody better to watch.

Allan Lamb
Although Lamby probably wasn't what people would call a "true great", he played great innings. He would win you games, and he'd win you tough games. He was another great fighter. He probably wasn't as prolific in Test cricket as he was in the one-day stuff, but you look at his record against the West Indies through that period: he got hundreds. If the chips were down and Lamby was walking to the middle, you'd feel hopeful he could turn it around. It wasn't so much how many runs he got but when he got them, and who against.

Ian Botham
In his younger days, from 1978 for about five years, he bowled consistently quick and swung the ball both ways, similar to the likes of [Malcolm] Marshall in his pomp. With Beefy, it would be a very quick outswinger, good bouncer, with an inswinger as well. That's how I remember him, but I think people underestimate his batting. He didn't average as much as a Kallis, but he was a very good batsman, technically. His catching was magnificent too. It's impossible to place him alongside Imran Khan, Kapil Dev and Richard Hadlee - all phenomenal cricketers - but you never felt you were beaten with Beefy in the team.

Alan Knott
For me, Bob Taylor was as good a gloveman as Knotty, but Alan would get you some runs. He would find a way. He wasn't afraid to try something different; he'd think about the game; he was quirky. But he fought like crazy to try and help his team, however ugly it looked.

Is it Big Bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Vince van der Bijl

Is it Big Bird? Is it a plane? No, it's Vince van der Bijl © Adrian Murrell/Allsport

John Emburey
I only played a little bit with Fred Titmus, right at the start of my career, so it had to be John Emburey - a fantastic, miserly bowler with a rock-solid action. He was happy to have people around the bat even if it wasn't turning. You knew he could keep it tight. He was a great slip fielder too. He couldn't hold a bat at the start of his career, but he turned himself into an awkward guy to bowl to, who often chipped in important runs, made hundreds, and was hard to get out.

Phil Edmonds
Phil Tufnell would be close as the second spinner, but Edmonds brought a lot to the team. He and Emburey were instrumental in England winning in Australia in 1986-87, keeping it tight in the middle overs. His catching close to the wicket was outstanding. He could bat if he put his mind to it. As a bowler, he was always prepared to try different things - sometimes very different - but he was tall, got a bit of bounce, and was aggressive. He could be just as hard work as Tuffers, but he was another character who was desperate to win.

Wayne Daniel
I almost went for Phil DeFreitas, an excellent all-round cricketer who bowled wonderfully well for me as England skipper. I could also have picked Malcolm Marshall, who I played with in the MCC Bicentennial game in 1987, but I felt that would have been a bit of a cheat. So I'm going for Wayne Daniel, "Black Diamond", who spent many years as Middlesex's overseas player. When he was young, he could bowl really quite sharp - top end of the 80s mph, I suspect - and he always ran in for you, always gave 100%, and was hardly ever injured. A very fine bowler. You never had an easy game against Wayne.

Vintcent van der Bijl
We'd seen a bit of Joel Garner and thought he was special, but Vinny was exceptional. He was 6' 8" and just ran up and bowled fast awayswingers. There was a game at Taunton against Somerset when Sunil Gavaskar was 80-odd not out on a very flat wicket, and Vinny went past his outside edge three or four times in a row with absolute jaffas which he tried to work leg side. After the fourth, Vinny walked down and said, tongue in cheek, "Play straight, you horrible little man!" Sunny had to laugh. In the one year he played, he took 80-odd wickets at under 15 as we won the Championship and the Gillette Cup. A phenomenal bowler: for me, as good as, if not better than Garner.

Scott Oliver tweets @reverse_sweeper

 

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