When I ask my mum about former Kent gloveman Alan Knott, she does a pretty convincing rendition of his stretching and crouching routine. Ask her what watching Chris Tavaré bat in a Test match was like and I’m told of the torture which would involve him scoring one run every ten overs. She cites him as the reason that my parents went off of watching cricket in the eighties.
Naturally a #3, the England selectors had him opening the batting, on the basis that there wasn’t any other option. Henceforth, he was paired off with Geoff Boycott, like in some sort of buddy cop movie, except without the action sequences. This must have resulted in some slow, but steady (but mainly slow) starts to innings.
A lot of batsmen develop some sort of reputation through the shot for which they are most known for, such as Tendulkar’s on-drive, Ponting’s pull and Robin Smith’s cut. Tavaré, on the other hand, earned notoriety for his masterful back foot defensive, or leaving leaving the ball well alone before strolling to square leg between deliveries. A Test strike rate of 30.60 makes modern slowcoaches like Rahul Dravid’s batting seem like you want to strap yourselves in for a jump to lightspeed.
And yet this makes him Gideon Haigh’s favourite cricketer, which goes to show that cricket isn’t just all about hitting boundaries and taking wickets.
T’Ashes Hero Moment
A heroic contribution of 28 runs to a partnership of 149 with Ian Botham at Old Trafford in 1981. While Botham hooked and flayed the Australian bowlers to all corners, Tavare provided the equivalent of water drip torture at the other end. In total he faced 289 deliveries for his 78, compared to Botham’s more revered knock of 118 off 102.