David Gower has encouraged the cricketing world to follow the example of the West Indies and adopt a “spirit of co-operation” in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic.
The former England captain has just been announced as the new president of the Lord’s Taverners, succeeding Sir Trevor McDonald, and will be throwing his influence behind the charity’s support for disabled and disadvantaged young people.
Gower accepts now is not the perfect time to be persuading people to continue parting with their money but believes it is more important than ever to reach out and help.
And, while supporting the Taverners’ youth and school cricket programmes is the focus of his new role, he believes need for co-operation extends all the way to the pinnacle of the game.
In agreeing to tour England in the middle of the health crisis, the West Indies have made a crucial step in allowing elite cricket to return from lockdown and Gower hopes the selflessness is catching.
“The West Indies have done us a favour. It is a unique situation and one with huge pressures,” Gower told the PA news agency.
“It will be a huge relief for these games to happen because getting going again in the key. Let’s face it, last year was extraordinary with the World Cup win and an exciting Ashes but the problem for any sport is that the public consciousness only lasts a short while.
“With the exception of football, probably, if you haven’t got live sport you’ve got nothing to pin tomorrow’s newspaper or the next five-minute clip on television or radio. The losses this year will be sizeable and any loss of income impacts the whole game, from the Test team to counties, to clubs and schools.
“There were lots of problems in cricket before Covid-19, particularly in terms of the nations outside India, Australia and England, and issues around finance and structure.
“They won’t go away on their own but if all this does help foster a spirit of co-operation, so much the better. It would be great if there was a feeling of all being in this together and if the old power struggles could be set aside in favour of keeping everyone in business, getting games on and keeping everyone safe.”
Gower, himself a taverner since 1983, hopes fundraising events will be close behind competitive cricket as he takes his turn in a lineage of presidents that counts the likes of Prince Edward, Sir David Frost and Sir Terry Wogan from outside the cricket world.
“In the last 70 years there has been a long line of august folk who have fulfilled this role,” he said.
“Be it royalty, thespians or cricketers they have all been drawn in by one thing – the fact that the Taverners do great work with disadvantaged and disabled children. I’ve seen the joy on the faces of kids who would otherwise have no involvement in sport so I’m fully behind everything they do.
“Now we just need to get up and running, get the events going and keep people aware because the world moves on.”