Match That Changed My Life

Building block

Graham Gooch ended up as the most prolific run scorer in England's history. This is how he began

Nagraj Gollapudi  |  

Gooch: scorer and maker of hundreds

Gooch: scorer and maker of hundreds © PA Photos

1979: Essex v Surrey

Lord's, the 1979 final of the Benson & Hedges Cup. We won that match by 35 runs and it was the first trophy Essex had ever won (since it started in 1876) and I was fortunate enough to have an influence on it.

Everyone wants to score a hundred but to do that in a limited-overs match at the best cricket ground in the world was especially memorable. Incidentally it was my first Man-of-the-Match award at Lord's.

I started playing for Essex in 1973 as an amateur, and a year later I signed up as a professional. Even as I made my Test debut in 1975 I was involved in the development of the Essex squad as a young player. Essex were building the team that would go on to be one of the most dominant and successful county sides between 1979 and 1992, when we won six County Championships. But until then we had always been the bridesmaid, which is why I pick this match as the most significant one of my career.

That year was a pivotal one for me. I made a significant change in my technique that summer, choosing to stand erect and hold the bat aloft. I had returned to the England Test squad in 1978, having been out three years, and then had a good World Cup in 1979. In fact, a month before this final, I had played in the World Cup final against West Indies at Lord's. This time at least I finished on the winning side.

It was a magnificent occasion for those Essex supporters who were part of the full house that witnessed a historic moment for their county. For me to go out there and perform under the pressure of a final and help Essex get a pretty sizeable total was amazing.

What that performance taught me above all is, you have to be an innings builder. The skill of scoring runs lies in being able to compose an innings, whether it is an ODI or a Test match. It is not just a case of you going out and that day happening to be the day where everything goes right. That happens occasionally.

You have to learn to control your emotions. You learn to construct a score. There is a difference between scoring a hundred and making a hundred. Scoring a hundred is when all things go right. It all just falls into place - the edges go into the ground, the fielders miss the ball or drop you. But then, many times you have to make a hundred. That means you have to think it through. You have to work at it. These hundreds, which you make, are generally the ones that influence matches, and that day against Surrey, I made a hundred.

Graham Gooch played 118 Tests and 125 ODIs for England between 1975 and 1995. He was speaking to Nagraj Gollapudi