One of England's most successful captains, Mike Brearley was something of a youthful prodigy, making many runs for Cambridge, and a triple century as captain of an MCC Under-25 team touring Pakistan in 1966/67. He left cricket completely for two years after this, concentrating on an academic career, and did not resume full time cricket until 1971 when he took over the captaincy of Middlesex. A correct opening batsman with limited strokes, he was first picked for England to face the West Indian pace barrage in 1976, and took over the England captaincy after Tony Greig abandoned it for World Series Cricket. Possibly fortunate to take over a talented England side that faced opponents weakened by the Packer defections, his success resulted from his deep understanding of cricket and the players at his command. Basically a conventional captain, his clear thinking and decisiveness combined with an ability to get the best out of his players made him outstanding. His batting suffered while he was captain, although he still played some useful innings, but as a former wicket-keeper he took many fine catches at first slip. He was a pioneer in the use of protective equipment, one of the first players to regularly wear a form of helmet, and after having his arm broken he frequently used an arm guard. After retirement he combined his profession of psychotherapist with occasional cricket journalism.
(Article: Copyright © 1998 Dave Liverman)
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