"Fighting corruption is cricket's biggest challenge" : Mike Gatting


PakPassion Administrator
Staff member
Jun 1, 2001
Born 6th June, 1957 and described variously as "pugnacious, bold, brave and belligerent", Michael "Mike" Gatting OBE started his Test career with a match in Karachi against Pakistan in 1978. Gatting would go on to play 79 Tests in before his retirement in 1995 having scored 4,409 runs at an average of 35.55.

With 10 centuries and 21 fifties in Test matches to his name, Gatting also had the honour of captaining England 23 times with the highlight of his captaincy being the Ashes victory in the 1986/87 series. His ODI career, curiously, also started with a match against Pakistan in 1977. He then went on to play 92 matches, scoring 2,095 runs with an average of 29.95.

Along the way, Gatting also courted controversy and gained notoriety twice - once because of the Shakoor Rana incident in 1987 and then due to his role in the rebel tours of South Africa in 1990. He was also the recipient of what has been termed the ball of the century by Shane Warne and is also remembered for the failed reverse-sweep shot off opposing captain Allan Border's first ball during the 1987 World Cup final.

Gatting was named as one of Wisden's five 'Cricketers of the Year' in 1984 and in 1987, he was awarded an OBE. He retired from all forms of cricket in 1998 and has since worked as a coach and commentator. He was the President of the Lord's Taverners for 2005/2006 and was recently named as President of the MCC in May 2013.

In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net the former England captain spoke on a variety of topics including notable moments in his career, the 'Ball of the Century', the confrontation with Umpire Shakoor Rana, the infamous bouncer from Malcolm Marshall as well as discussing the challenges facing cricket today.

PakPassion.net: How would you rate yourself as a cricketer in terms of your achievements and where do you feel your career fell short?

Mike Gatting: I suppose I didn't get into Test cricket as quickly as I would have liked to have done which was disappointing. Also I didn't get a hundred for a long time in my Test career and I didn't manage a series win against the West Indies. Apart from that, I think it was ok.

PakPassion.net: What do you feel was the high point of your international career?

Mike Gatting: The high point of my career came two or three years after I had started playing Test cricket when I made my first hundred, which was a special moment. After reaching the milestone of my first Test hundred I managed to get through two or three years of playing some really good cricket at Test level.

PakPassion.net: You’re famous in a strange sort of way for that Shane Warne delivery which has been labeled as the 'ball of the century'. Do you think it was the 'ball of century' or did you just misread it?

Mike Gatting: I didn't misread it. I just didn't realise it would spin that much. As a player, you know it's going to spin a bit but that one just turned an enormous amount and managed to beat everything. There wasn't a great deal I could do about it. You do get balls like that even from seamers where you think you've got it covered and it seams off the pitch and there's nothing you can do about it. You just hope it doesn't take the outside edge or hit the stumps.

PakPassion.net: Had you seen much of Shane Warne before that delivery? Did you have much of an opportunity along with your team mates to analyse his bowling before you faced him?

Mike Gatting: No, not really, in fact not much at all. We had seen a bit of footage of him bowling in the West Indies and India. Other than that, it was my first time seeing him. It was our first sighting of Shane Warne.

PakPassion.net: I suppose in the modern era, you would have complete video analysis for any new bowler, which is something you didn't have at that time for Shane Warne?

Mike Gatting: Yes the trouble is though you can watch someone bowl all the time and it doesn't matter. For example, you know Brett Lee bowls outswingers and you know Glenn McGrath seams the ball. But when Glenn McGrath seams the ball, you don’t know which way it’s going to go anyway and you can still miss it or knick it.

The same applies to Shane Warne, you can try looking at his run up, watch the ball or watch his hands to see which way the ball is spinning and you can have a look at as many videos as you like but, when the ball hits the pitch and does something extraordinary, then there isn’t a lot that you can do about it.

PakPassion.net: Was Shane Warne the best bowler you faced or were there better bowlers than him?

Mike Gatting: Well, Shane was the most successful, but Abdul Qadir was a fine bowler too. Abdul was a very very good bowler. He probably bowled a greater variety of deliveries than Shane did. Shane bowled a very good flipper and he bowled a googly which was difficult to pick. He also had a leggie and a top spinner in his armoury. Abdul Qadir however would bowl all sorts of different deliveries and they were sometimes hard to pick. He was another fine bowler. Obviously Shane was so successful and so consistent with the accuracy that you rarely got a bad ball to hit fom him.

PakPassion.net: The infamous Malcolm Marshall bouncer. What are your memories of that delivery and what happened that day?

Mike Gatting: Well, basically, it wasn’t a very good pitch as it was very uneven. Not too long after that, we actually had a Test match called off there, and rightly so. So this was a one-day match and the pitch was a bit up and down. I suppose, undulating was probably the right term for it. The ball basically reared off a length. It was a shortish ball which I was pulling but it got big very quickly because it hit one of the up slopes and those undulations. It came up rather quickly and also seamed back as well. Since it seamed back, I couldn’t get anything on it quick enough. I tried to get a glove on it, but it missed everything.

PakPassion.net: Was the Marshall bouncer the most potent fast bowling weapon that you faced during your career?

Mike Gatting: ‘Maco’ bowled a really good bouncer. It wasn’t really a bouncer to be fair. It was a shortish ball that got really big. If he did bowl a bouncer, it was never over your head. He got pretty upset if it was over head height because it was a waste in his eyes. ‘Maco’ was one of the great bowlers ever. In my view, both Shane Warne and Malcolm Marshall in their respective categories were without a doubt the best bowlers I faced.

PakPassion.net: One infamous incident that you are well-known for is the Shakoor Rana controversy in Pakistan. What are your thoughts and recollections of that incident and looking back would you have done anything differently that day?

Mike Gatting: I don’t know about doing anything differently. It’s not really good to argue with an umpire and you shouldn’t. I’ve never really had a problem with any other umpire in the world. It just happened to be him. I didn’t feel it was right for him to get that involved in the game. We had a discussion about it which wasn’t very good. It wasn’t questioning whether somebody was out or not. It was a question of why he was getting involved when perhaps there was no need to.

PakPassion.net: You were a fine player of spin bowling. Some of the modern-day batsmen tend to struggle against the best spinners in the world. What’s your basic advice to batsmen with regards to how to play spin bowling well particularly in Test cricket?

Mike Gatting: Everybody plays spin differently. As for me, I just tried to play it with the bat. I tried to play it with the spin and tried to use my feet and make the bowler bowl where I wanted to, or go down the wicket and sweep. It’s really like a game of chess. You can only play like that against spin bowling because you don’t have enough time to do that against seam bowling. With a spinner, you’ve got time to do things. You can prepare to go up and down the wicket and do different things. You can play a spinner on length or go back in the crease or go right forward. It shouldn't be that difficult because the ball is coming down slower and really you should be in control of it. Obviously if somebody turns it as much as Shane Warne did or bowls it as accurately, it’s more difficult and you have to play differently. Generally you try to play the ball with the bat, keep your legs out of the way and try and hit the ball straight back down the ground or with the spin as much as you can.

PakPassion.net: Sounds like you have a fairly straightforward and basic technique against spin. Most batsmen tend to over-complicate things, don't they?

Mike Gatting: Yes I am not sure why either. For me, the ball is coming down reasonably slower and a lot of them use the pad as a first line of defense which is probably the wrong thing to do. Therefore, especially in this day and age of DRS, you should not use it [pad] at all. You should just use your bat and trust your judgment.

PakPassion.net: As somebody who was a Test captain and led his country very well, what are the most important assets and strengths that a good captain should have?

Mike Gatting: I think good communication is a key ingredient. Apart from that, talking to your players, understanding them, trying to get them involved and making them feel a part of the dressing room is also important.

In my view, you have to make players have conversations and encourage them to have their say so they feel a part of a team is all up to the captain. It’s also up to the captain to make them feel as if they deserve to be there. In addition, working with different people and in different ways at the same time allowing communication and talking to people is key as well as trying to get the right balance in the team.

PakPassion.net: What are your thoughts on Misbah-ul-Haq as a cricketer and his captaincy?

Mike Gatting: I think he’s a very fine cricketer. It looks like he’s got the team on board and on his side. As a captain, it’s about getting players on board, working with you, and agreeing with the way you want to play and what you need to do and as a part of the team. Hopefully, you earn respect through time and people follow you which is perhaps a strange way to go at times. Again the simpler you can keep it, the better.

PakPassion.net: We’ve seen the likes of Salman Butt, Mohammad Amir, Mohammad Asif, Mervyn Westfield, Danish Kaneria, and some of the players in the IPL recently get involved in spot-fixing. Do you think fixing is common in the modern game or is it just a few bad apples giving cricket a bad name?

Mike Gatting: Look, it’s a thing that we don’t want in the game. It’s one of those very sad things that have crept in the game and who knows how long it’s been going on for. It seems that people feel that it doesn’t really affect games. Perhaps it doesn’t, but it’s not something you want in the game, be it throwing games or fixing games. It’s not good and destroys the fabric of the term a “gentleman’s game.” It really is something that I hope that we can rid the game of.

Sadly, I think that if we’re going to be realistic about it, we won’t be able to stop it unless there is some sort of fine that stops the question from being asked. It's an accomplished fact that players should know what they have to do if they are approached. You hope that somewhere along the line we find a solution that players won’t accept the money and won’t want to do it.

PakPassion.net: Do you think that Twenty20 leagues around the world encourage these sort of misdemeanours?

Mike Gatting: It doesn’t matter what cricket you’re playing. We’ve seen it in Test cricket and we’ve seen it in T20s. So it’s not just T20s, it happens all around the world sadly in all sorts of games. It is one of those things that whenever there’s a game on, even a County Championship match somebody can do something in that game. It doesn’t matter where it is. Everybody has to be vigilant throughout whatever cricket they’re playing.

PakPassion.net: We’ve seen the ICC make a recent rule change with regards to DRS – topping up the two reviews for captains in Test Cricket after 80 overs. What do you think of that rule change?

Mike Gatting: I’d like to just get it right first time. Obviously they’ve had a chat about it and think it’s the right way going forward. The reason we only had two in the first place is that we didn’t want everyone appealing willy-nilly. We wanted to make it to just get rid of those howlers. I’m not sure why they’ve added another two.

If they wanted to add them, just make it four, it doesn’t have to be after 80 overs. It’s one that we’ll have to wait and see to where it gets to. I’m not convinced that it will solve the issue. We’ve got to get this and the technology right. To me, the first thing is to get the technology to the best it can be and to the simplest it can be to actually get it right. That’s what we want. We want to make the decision making right – which is why we did it in the first place.

PakPassion.net: Do you think DRS has actually added to the pressure on the umpires?

Mike Gatting: I don’t think so. I think it’s helped the umpires. They get more decisions right. It does, I suspect, for some of the line decisions like run-outs and stumpings it makes life easier for the umpires. They get the decision right about 99% of the time, which I think is great. It takes a bit of angst out of the game. I think the pictures are good enough these days to be able to give us a clear indication of what’s going on and they should be got right. Sadly, some of the times in non line decisions it doesn’t seem to happen. I just think that we need to get the process and the technology right. If we can do that, the pressure should be off the umpires.

PakPassion.net: What do you feel are cricket’s biggest challenges going forward – both in the short-term and long-term?

Mike Gatting: I think that corruption in the game is a big one that we mustn’t ignore. It’s huge and something that we don’t like in the game and don’t want to see in the game at all. I think that the other thing is that we’ve got to ensure that cricket is stable and that we keep Test cricket, 50-over cricket, and T20 cricket as all three formats have a place in international cricket. I think that’s the direction we need to go in.
Yes, I enjoyed that. I was always a fan of old Gatt. I remember being thrilled to bits when he got his first test century in his 25th test or something. After that he was unstoppable for about the next four years.
PakPassion.net: What are your thoughts on Misbah-ul-Haq as a cricketer and his captaincy?

Mike Gatting: I think he’s a very fine cricketer. It looks like he’s got the team on board and on his side. As a captain, it’s about getting players on board, working with you, and agreeing with the way you want to play and what you need to do and as a part of the team. Hopefully, you earn respect through time and people follow you which is perhaps a strange way to go at times. Again the simpler you can keep it, the better.

Hear, Hear a very spot on assessment.
I remember the Pakistan manager in 1987 said "Gatting is your best cricketer. Help him, don't destroy him."

A year later they destroyed him.
i remember rooting for england in the 1987 WC final. then gatting hit that stupid sweep shot..ohh man..surprised no one asked him about that!!
Funny thing was that he played the reverse sweep very well usually! He was the pioneer of that shot. It was a bit rough to blame him for the loss, because he was top-scorer for England. I blame Athey, for getting over-awed and not being able to hit the ball off the cut strip.

Had Gower and Botham been there we would have won that...... :66:
A pleasure speaking with Gatting.

Always rated him as a tough competitor and an excellent player of spin.

Seems he's not mellowed his stance on the Shakoor Rana incident.
Good interview. Gatting was a bit before my time so I've only seen him through the lens of the Shakoor Rana incident. Will have to delve a bit into his career as older Pak fans rate him highly. I also like how he hasn't changed his position much on the Shakoor Rana incident. Its quite nice to see someone stick by their convictions, especially as in the modern age people tend to flip flop a lot.

Also find it strange how most non Pakistanis with a knowledge of the game rate Misbah quite highly whereas our fans tear into him at every opportunity.
A pleasure speaking with Gatting.

Always rated him as a tough competitor and an excellent player of spin.

Seems he's not mellowed his stance on the Shakoor Rana incident.

The way of this world

Shakoor Rana died a pauper while Gatting is doing so well.

Very good interview

Out of curiosity,what was Gatting-Rana tiff all about?
Very good interview

Out of curiosity,what was Gatting-Rana tiff all about?

A fielder was moved when the bowler was running in to bowl.

Shakoor Rana wasn't happy about that and there was an almighty argument with lots of finger pointing.
Very good interview

Out of curiosity,what was Gatting-Rana tiff all about?

England considered that the home umpiring was aggressively partisan, with egregiously bad decisions all going against them. (To be fair, Qadir also got a howler when he was batting.)

Shakoor reckoned that Gatting was moving fielder Capel as the bowler came in. Gatting said that he was stopping Capel moving, not moving him. There was an altercation between the two. Gatting led England off the field. The British Foreign Office got involved and forced Gatting to apologise to Shakoor.

It was, I think, all part of a nasty game being placed between the TCCB and PCB. Sadly, Gatting was not smart enough to realise that he was being (IMO) deliberately provoked.
Good interview.

If there was ever a series to display why we should be grateful for having home umpires, it was this one.
Once again many thanks to Mike Gatting for his time.
A fielder was moved when the bowler was running in to bowl.

Shakoor Rana wasn't happy about that and there was an almighty argument with lots of finger pointing.

thats it?talk about making mountain of a molehill
Legend has it that former England batsman Mike Gatting took ill on a trip to India in 1993 after he decided to trust his stomach with some prawns.

However, Gatting, who was in India a few months ago, denied that the seafood delicacy was the reason he fell ill. “I love doing things I enjoy. I enjoy eating prawns. It’s a very nice story, but I don’t think it was the prawns that made me miss the Test in Madras. There were probably four or five of us. I remember, the previous morning, Graeme Hick had got a bug. I think it was a viral that we got,” he recalled.

Gatting, now 62, said in hindsight that he and the others shouldn’t have played the Test. “I remember, it was the most-embarrassing moment in my Test career. I should not have been playing. But I went out to the field. I dropped a fairly easy catch, perhaps the easiest catch I ever dropped on a cricket field. They said that if it was a cheese roll, I probably would have caught it. But there we were,” he added with a chuckle.

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In his long and illustrious career, Mike Gatting has donned multiple hats. He has been one of the most successful batsmen for England; has captained the side with elan and has also been the World Cricket Committee chairman at the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

In the city to be part of the inauguration of the Tendulkar Middlesex Academy-DY Patil Sports Centre, Gatting bats for the traditional five-day Test cricket.

In an exclusive chat with Sportstar, he talks about Test cricket, England’s future and more.

As one of the iconic counties, Middlesex has taken various initiatives to popularise the game among the youngsters. Now as it has come up with the Tendulkar Middlesex Academy in India, what are your thoughts?

It is hugely important when you have somebody as iconic as Sachin (Tendulkar), here in India. Middlesex has been going on for 156 years. And we have had some really good players over the years and, and I think we are all very much like-minded, certainly the cricket as I speak of Middlesex is about making sure the kids get their opportunity, making sure people are healthy.

But for me, the main thing is the kids and the lessons they can learn. Sachin said earlier and I fully support him in the fact that you know, you learn a lot of life skills whilst you're learning and playing a sport. You learn to mix with others, you learn different cultures, you know. I remember it was a huge culture shock for me in my first trip to Pakistan.

You know, for me the knowledge that is in Sachin and Indian cricket, and the knowledge at Middlesex would have been wasted if it wasn't used. And I think the coaching drills are a positive because it's the thoughts and views of other talented cricketers. It will be hugely helpful to have a lot of these around the world because you're talking about trying to make sure the game continues to grow around the world. I mean, we're the second biggest sport in the world. But you know, there are large areas of the world where we don't play.

What’s the way forward to make the game more popular?

I hope something like the Olympics will help that. I feel getting cricket into the Olympics is important. But the more of these (academies), we can put in different parts of the world. With that, the real adage of being a better person as well comes true. It's not just about being a great sportsman, it’s about being a better person. And you know that to me is as important as anything.

At a time when every youngster aspires to play the IPL, do you think that it is important to ensure that they play enough cricket in the longer format?

You only have to listen to your Indian captain, Virat Kohli, who's been fantastic. Virat is a wonderful player, but he sounds like he's a nice man as well. And he appreciates that Test cricket is a unique form of the game, and it always will be. It is a longer form but it is worth keeping because you do learn so much about yourself as a cricketer, and as a person when you are playing over five days. T20s is fun, it’s a great game of cricket. It's lovely. It's great for the spectators. But you look at all the very best players in T20. They're all Test players, who know the highs and lows, who know about playing in front of large crowds, who do understand the whole game, and they've got much more to give. And I think that's important, but the uniqueness of Test cricket is far beyond the T20s.

But I do admit, totally the T20 is a fabulous game for the young kids to get them involved. And then hopefully once they get big, you know, they might feel the inclination to learn the longer game. It is a wonderful thing because then you hone your skills regularly like trying to bat for a whole day or even bat for two hours. You don't get that in T20s. So you learn different things about your fitness, your mental strength, your determination, your ability to bounce back when you haven't had a good set. So, there are so many things it teaches you.

There are proposals for reducing Test cricket to a four-day affair. What are your thoughts?

I sincerely believe they should listen to the players. They will give you an honest opinion about that. And you know, there is no harm in listening but I have my views which I'd like to keep to myself at the moment. I do believe yes, we will talk about it, but if we're going to change it for making the game better, then it’s fine, but I'm not sure. As we've seen over this Test series against South Africa -- where matches have gone on till the fifth day. You do need five days. If it rains and you lose a day, but if you didn't have the fifth day, the match would be a draw. So there are lots of things.

It has been a great couple of years for England. What are your thoughts?

Yes, it has been. You know the nice thing is we have found some iconic players. I mean, we've lost one sadly in Jimmy Anderson. He's probably coming to a close. We all knew that would be, but he's been iconic for England. Broad is still being good and looks like he's listening in his old age as well. But yeah, the likes of (Mark) Wood has come back stronger.

I think time will tell, but I think Mr Pope (Ollie Pope) is going to be a very talented cricketer. Of course, Stokesy (Ben Stokes) has been fabulous for England. Joe (Root) has been battling a little bit but he's still a fantastic player. He’s gonna possibly be one of our longest-serving (captains) and is probably a challenger for Sir Alistair Cook for the amount of time he's sort of been the captain. He's a fantastic cricketer and his captaincy is coming on nicely.

Would you say, the current lineup has the possibility of being the best England side ever?

It could become that. (Jonny) Bairstow is not playing. I think youngsters have done a great job and are one of the reasons why we won the series 3-1 against South Africa. You know when you look at what we used to have, and no disrespect to these young guys because they could still become great players. England’s top three have always been quite strong. And it's probably one of our weaker areas at the moment. So if any of these two or three young players become stronger, then we will have a seriously good side.

United Arab Emirates (UAE) players Amir Hayat and Ashfaq Ahmed have been charged with five counts of breaching cricket’s anti-corruption rules and provisionally suspended with immediate effect.

The Emirates Cricket Board (ECB) had suspended Ashfaq during the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup Qualifier in October last year but no formal charges had been laid so far.

Both Amir and Ashfaq have been charged with the following breaches of the ICC Anti-Corruption Code:

Article 2.1.3 – Seeking, accepting, offering or agreeing to accept any bribe or other Reward to: (a) fix or to contrive in any way or otherwise to influence improperly the result, progress, conduct or any other aspect of any International Match; or (b) ensure for Betting or other corrupt purposes the occurrence of a particular incident in an International Match.

Article 2.4.2 – failing to disclose to the ACU (without unnecessary delay) the receipt of any gift, payment, hospitality or other benefit, (a) that the Participant knew or should have known was given to him/her to procure (directly or indirectly) any breach of the Anti-Corruption Code, or (b) that was made or given in circumstances that could bring the Participant or the sport of cricket into disrepute.

Article 2.4.3 – failing to disclose to the ACU (without unnecessary delay) all gifts (whether monetary or otherwise), hospitality and/or other non-contractual benefits offered to a Participant that have a value of US$750 or more, whether or not the circumstances set out in Article 2.4.2 are present, save that there shall be no obligation to disclose any (i) personal gifts, hospitality and/or other non-contractual benefits offered by or on behalf of any close friend or relative of the Participant, (ii) any food or beverage gifts or (iii) cricket hospitality gifts in connection with Matches the Participant is participating in.

Article 2.4.4 – failing to disclose to the ACU (without unnecessary delay) full details of any approaches or invitations received by the Participant to engage in Corrupt Conduct under the Anti-Corruption Code.

Article 2.4.5 – failing to disclose to the ACU full details of any facts or matters that came to his attention that may evidence Corrupt Conduct under the Code by another Participant.

The players have 14 days from 13 September to respond to the charges. The ICC will not make any further comment in respect of these charges at this stage.
I believe corruption problem is very deep. It is not easy to eliminate it completely but it can be reduced.