Brentham Ceases to Rule World Cricket
J M BREARLEY OBE
Mike Brearley ranks with Fred Perry as one of our most illustrious sons. He has served as Chairman of the World Cricket Committee until July this year for two terms, 6 years in all. Mike, who spent his formative years at Brentham, has had an outstanding career, as well as earning the accolade of the best captain England has ever had. His book "The Art of Captaincy" is considered to be the most telling on the subject.
Mike's first-class career started in 1961 at Cambridge where he scored 76 on his debut against the Australian Touring side and never looked back. He captained the University from 1964 to 1968 and was chosen to tour South Africa with England in 1964/65. Subsequently, in 1966/67, he was picked to captain the England Under 25 side on their tour to Pakistan where he made eye catching scores of 312 no and 223, finishing with an average of an astonishing 132.
He played only intermittently for Middlesex in the 60s whilst, after Cambridge, in 1969 and 1970 he lectured in philosophy at Newcastle University. That changed when he was appointed captain of the County in 1971, a post he held until 1982, leading the side to the Championship in 1976, 1977, 1980 and 1982. This success led to his selection for England in 1974 at the unusually late age of 34 and as captain in 1977 until 1980. His Test average as a batsman was modest, probably due to the age at which he started, but he was a fine slip-fielder and an outstanding captain. The Australians accredited him with "a degree in people" and this was substantiated by the way he drew the best out of his teams. One of the most telling example of this was his re-appointment as captain in 1981 (now 39 years old) following Botham's resignation. He then led England to the most remarkable victory over Australia in the 3rd Test at Headingly and then on to winning the series. He played 39 times for England and was captain for 31 of them. He won 17 matches and only lost 4. He also led the side to the Final of the World Cup in 1979 scoring 64 against the all-powerful West Indian bowling attack.
After such cricketing success, Mike has pursued a career as a Psychoanalyst and writer . He writes regular columns in The Times and a new book titled "On Form" was published in September 2017. In 2008 he was appointed President of the MCC, which happily coincided with Brentham Cricket Club's Centenary. He readily agreed to attend and offered to speak at the Dinner. It was an occasion graced by 3 England captains (Brearley, Gatting & Chris Cowdrey) and Micky Stewart the former England Manager. Clubs are not often fortunate to have 2 England captains as after Dinner speakers! Mike was also appointed as President of the British Psychoanalytical Society from 2008 to 2010. He subsequently chaired the World Cricket Committee from 2011 to 2017, which made important recommendations for changes to cricket.
Two other significant matters are attributable to him. His tour to South Africa brought him into direct touch with apartheid. When the MCC tour became an issue in 1968, he seconded the motion from David Sheppard to cancel it -not the most popular move in cricketing circles. He was also an innovator in that against the whole history of the game he wore the forerunner of the helmet. This took the modest form of a plastic protector under his cap that covered the temples -again, a move against convention that led to a major change.
A moment we remember fondly was in 1962. Brentham reached the Final of the North Vs South London Cup. Mike, then at Cambridge, offered to and did act as 12th Man!