Mike Brearley Interview: ‘Bob Willis’ Big Bad Wolf Character Made Him Wonderful No.2

Does it ever bother him, I asked him, that specialist captains, selected primarily for their leadership skills, are always called “Brearley-esque”? He burst out laughing. “I would rather be remembered as the greatest drummer of all time,” he replied. “Although not many people say that about me!

“I know what they mean,” he added. “And it’s unusual for the Australians to have taken this route with Tim Paine: normally they choose their best XI before their captain, whereas in England we choose the leader first. But from what I can see, Paine was the right man for a tough time. It looks down to earth and down-to-earth.

And what about Root, I asked? We agreed how amazing it seems that the English holder already has 50 tests as captain, which puts him on track to beat Alastair Cook’s national record (59) in Melbourne at the end of the season. year.

Not only is Root unlikely at 30, but his leadership style is so low-key he could almost be a liberal Democrat. Still, his 52 winning percentage is second only to Brearley’s 58 among postwar England captains.

“I think he’s a good guy – straightforward, honest, committed,” Brearley said. “One thing I really liked was the way he responded [West Indian fast bowler] Shannon Gabriel dragged him around saying, “Do you like boys? He just replied, “There is nothing wrong with being gay,” completely straightforward and calm. I was not excited or made a scene. “

It really is the Root method. Discreet and unfussy, he has more in common with New Zealander Kane Williamson than Indian Virat Kohli – the two rivals he will face this summer. Even the hundreds of Roots seem to have been stealthily created, so you often find yourself duplicated when looking at the dashboard.

But if Root is to become a great captain, there is one more thing for him to do: collect the ashes, preferably in Australia this winter. As part of England’s exhaustive preparations, he could do worse than book a session on Brearley’s couch.

Donations to the Bob Willis Fund can be made at www.bobwillisfund.org

About John McTaggart

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