Graham Gooch

Graham Gooch

Areas of Interest

Sports, Media

Honorary Award

Honorary Doctor of the University, 2006


Born in London in 1953, Graham Gooch is one of England's greatest ever cricketers. Captain of Essex and England, he scored 8,900 runs in Test matches and 44,846 first-class runs at an average of 49. His aggregate 456 against India at Lords in 1990 remains a world record. As a bowler he took over 200 first-class wickets and returned best figures in a Test of 3-39. As captain of England his commitment to personal fitness and a strong work ethic inspired the team to some outstanding performances at a time when results had been disappointing. He captained England 34 times and was Wisden Cricketer of the Year 1980. He has continued to play an active role in cricket since his retirement from playing. Graham has been an England selector, England specialist batting coach and was England Tour Test Manager to Australia in 1998/99. He is also in great demand as a broadcaster.

In 2006 Graham Gooch was made an Honorary Doctor of the University.


"The Senate of Anglia Ruskin University is pleased to confer on Graham Gooch OBE the award of Honorary Doctor of the University in recognition of his long and dedicated contribution to County Cricket in Essex, and of his illustrious international record as a successful Test captain of England, and one of England's foremost batsman of any generation.

Whilst this University confers honours on many truly outstanding people from many walks of life, it is not often that we have the pleasure of honouring a contemporary living legend, but today is one of those occasions. How did this career develop and what is the evidence for this assertion?

He was born in Leytonstone in East London in 1953, and his interest in cricket was nurtured by his father Alf and at the Ilford Cricket School by his mentor, Bill Morris. He progressed as a cricketer who could do a bit of everything, and was sent on the London Schools Tour of East Africa. Shortly after he made the Essex Second Eleven and in 1973, made his first class debut. In 1975, he broke into the national scene making 75 for the MCC against the Australians but in his First Test, which followed on the strength of this, he regretfully made a pair! He returned to the Test team in 1978, his self-discipline, determination and technique having been substantially reinforced with an emerging Essex side which was soon to dominate the County scene.

The next decade and a half witnessed the greatest personal run accumulation exercised in the history of cricket. On his retirement from Test cricket in 1995 at the age of 41, he still is England's all time highest run scorer with 44,846 runs in all first class cricket at an average of 49, including 128 centuries (20 in Tests) and a further 22,211 runs in List A matches, in all, a world record. He lies eighth in the highest ever Test innings (one run behind Bradman); Has the record of most Test runs in a calendar year (1,264); and is third in the world in terms of most runs in a Test career, just behind Border and Gavaskar, both of whom play rather more innings. He is the only Test player in history to have scored a triple century and century in the same Test, against India in 1990, and his match aggregate of 456 remains the world record for a Test match. Many pundits and he himself, would count his greatest performance to have been against the West Indies in 1991, where he carried his bat for 154 out of 252 on a damp wicket against the combined artillery of Ambrose, Walsh, Marshall and Pattison. He captained England on 34 occasions and gave way to Michael Atherton in 1993. He made a brief comeback for MCC against New Zealand at the age of 47 but time was not on his side.

When one considers he lost three years Test cricket as a result of captaining the so-called Rebel Tour of South Africa in 1982 at the height of apartheid, it is clear that virtually every record in the book would have been comfortable smashed.

His personal regime throughout has been one of strict discipline, self determination and inner strength, linked to a ruthless commitment to physical training. As captain, this stern philosophy did not entirely endear to more cavalier brethren so as David Gower and Ian Botham. This personal philosophy reinforces his belief that coaching can only go so far - it is the inner man that matters. He thus thrives on responsibility and unlike some other captains his batting actually improved with the captaincy.

After retirement from the pleasurable employment of belting red leather to sundry parts of the planet, he has certainly ploughed his expertise and experience back into the game in many capacities - as an England cricket selector (1996 - 1999); as England Specialise Batting Coach (1998 - 2000); as England Test Tour Manager to Australia (1998 - 1999); as 'A' Team Tour Manager to Sri Lanka (1998); as Batting Coach at Durham County Cricket Club (1998 - 2001) and Head Coach at Essex County Cricket Club (2002 - 2004).

However, it is as Special Ambassador to Essex County Cricket that he sees his principal priorities these days - and who better to fulfil this role. This role has developed into a multi-faceted one. In the commercial domain, he has long acknowledged that County Cricket cannot rely on government or TV handouts, but has to generate its own independent funding streams (just like universities!). The centre piece of this is the ambition to make the Ford County Ground at Chelmsford into a world-class facility in its city centre location. This involves considerable activity in seeking out and securing new corporate contracts and sponsorships also, in supporting the County Academy for both boys and girls of 12 - 19 years of age. He has established the "Graham Gooch Scholarship Fund", an initiative to raise money to send some of the Club's best young players for experience overseas. He is keen on persuading state schools to embrace cricket once more, through a colt system and by a coach development programme. The selling of school playing fields for development is clearly not helping his cause! His links with this university are also evident in that Tony Palladino and other Essex players have attended this university.

In short, in the above, we see a massive commitment to the integration of the Club into Essex life and society; to its contribution to Country life; and its role as a family club. The University is itself honoured to be associated with these endeavours and to future collaboration - our vision is very similar in these respects.

Among its more serious manifestations such as national pride; triumphalism and cyclical despondency; and international strife, sport and particularly cricket can certainly be classed both as entertainment and education. In his post-retirement era, our honorary graduand has developed an enviable reputation in this regard. He has been a special commentator for Channel 4, Sky, Test Match Special and Radio Five Live since 2000 when his witty and penetrating observations have raised significantly the understanding of millions of the intricacies of cricket. He is a regular contributor to Question of Sport and is a much sought after pundit at senior management development seminars for well known companies on such topics as leadership, motivation, management talent and teamwork, where his style of analysis, relevant anecdotes and intelligent humour has provided fascinating insights on common leadership issues in business and sport. A receding hairline lately has also offered him scope to advocate and advertise the virtues of hair transplants!

So, in the light of the above, and exercising the power conferred on me by Senate, may I therefore invite the Vice Chancellor, to bestow the award of Honorary Doctor of the University upon Graham Gooch."