David Ivon Gower presents the Sky cricket coverage with the same languid style as he batted: eloquent and laid-back, but smart and on the button with it. He tends to let his outspoken colleagues Ian Botham and David Lloyd do the shouting, as he sits back and chuckles wryly. During periods of analysis in the studio, Gower is an expert in moderating debates.
Gower wasn’t always on Sky, having started on the BBC as commentator, presenter (Gower’s Cricket Monthly) and as team captain on comedy panel show They Think It’s All Over, where the jokes at his expense seemed to be based on the fact he was ‘posh’. Indeed, during his playing career he was often described as a player befitting of a bygone amateur era, with his love of flamboyant extra-curricular activities. It was perhaps no surprise that his character clashed with the more pragmatic Graham Gooch towards the end of his career, not least for the Tiger Moth incident in 1990-91, when Gower and John Morris took a trip in a biplane 200 feet above the ground where their teammates were batting (both having been dismissed earlier in the match). He is reputed to have walked out to bat in the next match to the tune of Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines.
In a long playing career from the mid-70s to early 90s, Gower played for Leicestershire and latterly Hampshire. His England record speaks for itself: 117 Tests, 8231 runs at 44.25; 114 ODIs, 3170 runs at 30.77. He also captained them with some success (winning the 1985 Ashes) and some failure (‘blackwashes’ against West Indies).
Although highlights on youtube can easily strengthen a player’s reputation, the classy shots in this 200 v India underline his timeless elegance.
These days, bespectacled and hair not so much curly blonde as patchy grey, Gower still exudes an air of casual superiority. He must be partly-responsible for the excellence of the Sky coverage, even if amongst England’s demolition of Australia in 2010/11 (we need no excuse to make reference to it) one unexpected highlight involved ‘Lord’ Gower and Nasser Hussain’s chair.
Lord Gower: sumptuous batsman, confident commentator, wine-buff and excellent even when someone’s pierced his foot live on air. The jury’s still out on his being Lee Hurst’s stooge though.