In December 1978 David Gower had been playing for England for seven months. England had not produced a really top-class batsman for many years, but from his first ball in Test cricket, which he hit for four, Gower looked like the batsman English supporters had been waiting for. He averaged 50 in his first Test series (against Pakistan) and scored his first Test century in his fourth Test (against New Zealand). There was every reason to expect him to do well against Australia in the 1978-9 series, especially as Australia were weakened by defections to Kerry Packer's cricket circus. In the first Test he did OK with two forties, one of them not out, but I hoped to see more in the second Test.Though they don't say anything about a romance in Poland, here are some supporting accounts of David Gower's innings:
At the time I had been teaching in Poland for 14 months. In those days there were two ways of finding out the Test score: BBC World Service radio (if you were near a radio at the right time and the reception was any good) or phoning home (if you could wait for three hours to get through). In short, it was hard to get the score. At times I was like the two Englishmen, Caldicott and Charters, in The Lady Vanishes, struggling to find out the Test score in a foreign land, where people knew nothing of such things. However, I managed to get some news after close of play on the first day, thanks to a Polish woman, who I was just getting to know. I learned that Gower had come in when England were 41 for 3, but that England were 190 without further loss at the end of the day, with Gower 101 not out. He was out early on day two, but England went on to win the match and the series.
Gower was to play many fine Test innings. For someone who was born too late to see Denis Compton bat, he made it possible to imagine what Compton must have been like. As for the Polish woman, I married her a few years later. The way to a man's heart may be through his stomach, but providing access to the Test score can also help.
The foundation for England's success was laid on the opening day by Boycott, in his most obdurate mood, and Gower, whose youthful genius was again revealed in his maiden century against Australia. - Wisden 1980You'd think Mike Brearley, at least, could have said something about cricket and marriage, but I guess he was preoccupied with the duties of captaincy.
Hogg was back in the attack, and bowled three bouncers in an over of sheer intimidation to a clearly disturbed David Gower. That he came through the storm was commendable; that he went on to score a brilliant century and partner Boycott for 158 runs virtually won the match for England... It was heady fare from a precocious young man with talent to spare. - Alan Lee, A Pitch in Both Camps
With six minutes of play remaining, Gower beautifully on-drove Hurst for four, reaching his 100 - his second in only eight Test matches - in 213 minutes, from 196 deliveries, with nine fours. - Peter McFarline, A Testing Time
My first 100 against Australia. Very, very satisfying feeling - but my thanks to Boycs who kept urging me on with sound commonsense. - Bob Taylor and David Gower, Anyone for Cricket?
Gower played magnificently. He is quite the best timer of a ball I have ever seen and the fact that he plays and misses a little too often for his own good does not alter that judgement. He is a lucky cricketer and nobody should begrudge him that, even if Hogg called him a distinctly uncomplimentary name after being hit for four and was reprimanded by umpire Tom Brooks.- Geoffrey Boycott, Put to the Test
Gower was out in [Hogg's] third over of the morning having added only one to his overnight 101. His fourth-wicket stand of 158 with Boycott was the main substance of the England innings. It needed a good delivery to dismiss Gower, moving away a fraction as [he] played forward[,] and hitting the off-stump. - Christopher Martin-Jenkins, In Defence of the Ashes
We desperately needed to break the Boycott-Gower partnership... Hogg answered our wish, in his second over, with the scalp of Gower for 102. The ball pitched on middle-stump as he bowled round the wicket, and straightened to clip the top of the off-stump. - Graham Yallop, Lambs to the Slaughter
Gower added only one run next morning before falling, fittingly, to Hogg, bowling round the wicket. Gower's had been a virtuouso performance, scoring 102 runs in 254 minutes off 221 balls with nine fours. - Mike Brearley and Dudley Doust, The Ashes Retained
Gower played inside a ball from Hogg, now bowling round the wicket, and his off stump was hit as the ball went from left to right. The Leicestershire man held his bat at the present-arms as he walked off to warm applause... David Frith, The Ashes '79
[For links to the other posts in this series, see here.]