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4.3 out of 5 stars23
4.3 out of 5 stars
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Being of the generation that came of age when David Gower was at his peak as an England batsman, I'm one who regards his batting as possibly the most beautiful thing I ever saw on the cricket field. In his earlier years, until injury hampered this, he was also one of the greatest cover point fielders ever. I remember his legendary entrance into Test cricket, hooking his first ball for four. Ever since then, I was captivated. Something of this still comes through even now when he is perhaps better known as a television presenter.

Though perhaps slightly less celebrated than his colleague and friend, Sir Ian Botham, Gower weaved more than enough magic of his own to be a legend in his own right. I also feel a closer affinity towards Gower, who is more complex a personality, and his batting always seemed like an act of grace. One of my memories is of watching him bat at Lords in a minor MCC match. An American couple were also watching, struggling to understand the game, and the British fascination with it, from the rules. Perhaps not the best way to understand it! Then Gower came in and produced some of his magic. They went away having seen the sublime heights that it can sometimes reach.

It's this that Gower explores in this book. The first chapter is perhaps the best, and most revealing, where he discusses how being seen as a player whose game seemed effortless put an extra burden upon him in terms of expectations. It meant that when something went wrong he would be accused of "not trying." How the ease of his stroke-play, and his insouciant manner, which he admits was in part a defence mechanism, later in his career were counted against him, despite still being one of the best players of his time. And the England team certainly didn't perform better without him!

The rest of the story looks mainly at this and his career. This has been told Gower: The Autobiography and in Rob Steen's David Gower: A Man Out of Time. Steen is probably the definitive book on David Gower with eloquent prose that does justice as to what his subject brought to the game. Both books though are now out of date as they do not encompass Gower's television career after his playing days. This book updates this, and perhaps shows the benefit Gower having more distance from controversies that were still raging when those earlier volumes were written. To this are added perceptive pen portraits and impressions of his colleagues from "They Think It's All Over, and the Sky commentary team, as well as some thoughts on the contemporary game. He also alludes to the happiness he has found subsequently in family life. There are photographs of his wife and daughters as well as from his work and playing days, though he is perhaps understandably less revealing about the former than the latter.

It is inevitably the story of the playing years, and what shaped him before that dominate the narrative. What emerges is a portrait of a complex, likeable man sometimes prone to self-doubt despite his amazing gifts. But also a man who feels misunderstood and mistreated, perhaps with some justification. At the same time he shows a generosity of spirit which does try to understand what happened to him and to grasp the bigger picture. He is also prepared to accept that he may have contributed to this, all of which perhaps helps understand why he remains a popular figure. There is a modesty in him when he suggests even if he did disappoint some, the figures show he still achieved great things.

In this, I think he is being overly modest. For him there was always more to life than just cricket. His cricket showed that there was more to cricket than just putting bat to ball and winning. There was grace and beauty. Rather like the violinist Yehudi Menuhin, sometimes Gower's timing and its beauty deserted him in the face of self-doubt. But in both cases when they found it, what heights were reached! The record shows it was more often the case than not that, when called for, Gower was there. His figures bear favourable comparison with the greatest players. But it is for those glimpses of the sublime, which defies the accountancy, that I will most remember David Gower.
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on 23 October 2013
As a firm believer that the Author has serious claims to being the GLE (Greatest Living Englishman) I have to give him the 5 stars. Mind you I could point out that on the bookshelf above the desk in front of me is another work from the same hand (albeit guided by Martin Johnson rather than Simon Wilde) which bears a remarkable similarity to the first half of this one - it's entitled "Gower - The Autobiography" (even some of the photos are the same). Mind you, I see that in 1992 the said book cost me £14.99 whereas now, courtesy of the electronic world in which we live, the new instalment was considerably cheaper!
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on 29 October 2014
I don’t really have any memories of David Gower as a player but I’ve always liked him as a commentator and enjoyed his sense of humour, so I was really looking forward to reading his book.

The book has some good moments, but overall I was left a little bit disappointed. I just found the first half of the book in particular to be a bit repetitive, often coming back to themes that he’d already covered in sufficient detail earlier. For example, he goes into detail about his personality and how it wasn’t in him to be professional all the time etc. While this was interesting I didn’t feel it was necessary to revisit it as often (or in as much detail) as he did. Equally, when recounting social incidents off the pitch I got a similar feeling – there are only so many Ian Botham stories you need to read before you get the point. I’d have preferred it if he’d spent some of this time discussing some of his opponents and the teams he played against instead. This would have been more interesting and given the book a bit more variety.

Having said that, David Gower’s sense of humour does come through quite a bit (which is a good thing!) and I enjoyed reading about his time as Captain in particular. The second half of the book is a good read - we get to hear a bit more on his general views on the game (as well as on commentating).
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on 29 January 2014
A very good and easy read that picks up where the previous book left off would recommend to any lord gower fan
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VINE VOICEon 28 May 2014
This book contains some interesting insights into David Gower's careers as test and county cricketer and cricket broadcaster. There are some amusing stories of life on tour, relations with team mates and colleagues, and some revealing points about form and confidence. However, the way in which Gower was at odds with the prevailing professional culture in cricket, particularly in the second half of his career, is the dominating theme here. While it's clearly true, and does reveal some interesting points about the way sport works, the frequent explanations of this are rather wearing, and seem to divert the book from more interesting stories. Also, its writing is at times a bit clumsy - not really what I expected of a volume co-authored with Simon Wilde.
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on 6 November 2013
Written as he commentates on Sky. Laconic and amusing. Enjoyed his anti establishment position on the controversial incidents of his career. Good read.
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on 30 December 2015
As others have mentioned this book is a bit repetitive in places and dwells on certain subjects for rather too long (his cavalier personality traits, justifications for his various (minor) misdemeanours and other players he considered non conformists such as Botham, Edmonds, Flintoff, Lamb and even Pieterson, whilst thinly disguising his contempt for the ultimate conformist Gooch. This was all a bit dull to be honest.

Overall a decent read but slightly disappointing given the undoubted flair of the man.
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on 28 November 2013
This book had everything I expected from David's playing days to his TV commentaries - a must for all real cricket lovers.
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on 23 July 2014
DG is a fragile character, yet with his 100% honesty he's a strong man. A joy to read for cricket folk, without being inaccessible for others.
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on 11 May 2014
Detailed, interesting, witty, full of insight into life as a cricketer and now commentator.

Enough detail to keep you interested.
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