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Mike Brearley

Mike Brearley

Brearley pictured standing
Personal information
Full name
John Michael Brearley
Born (1942-04-28) 28 April 1942 (age 81)
Harrow, Middlesex, England
NicknameBrears, Scagg
Height5 ft 11 in (180 cm)
BowlingRight arm medium
RelationsHorace Brearley (father)
Mana Sarabhai (spouse)
International information
National side
Test debut (cap 465)3 June 1976 v West Indies
Last Test27 August 1981 v Australia
ODI debut (cap 38)2 June 1977 v Australia
Last ODI22 January 1980 v West Indies
Domestic team information
1961–1968Cambridge University
Career statistics
Competition Test ODI FC LA
Matches 39 25 455 272
Runs scored 1,442 510 25,186 6135
Batting average 22.88 24.28 37.81 26.44
100s/50s 0/9 0/3 45/134 3/37
Top score 91 78 312* 124*
Balls bowled 0 0 315 48
Wickets 3 4
Bowling average 64.00 15.00
5 wickets in innings 0 0
10 wickets in match 0 0
Best bowling 1/6 2/3
Catches/stumpings 52/– 12/– 418/12 111/–
Medal record
Men's Cricket
Representing  England
ICC Cricket World Cup
Runner-up 1979 England
Source: Cricinfo, 8 February 2008

John Michael Brearley OBE (born 28 April 1942) is a retired English first-class cricketer who captained Cambridge University, Middlesex, and England. He was the captain of the English squad which finished as runners-up at the 1979 Cricket World Cup.

Brearley captained the international side in 31 of his 39 Test matches, winning 18 and losing only 4.[1] He was the President of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 2007–08. Since his retirement from professional cricket he has pursued a career as a psychoanalyst, psychotherapist (registered with the BPC), motivational speaker, and writer, serving as President of the British Psychoanalytical Society 2008–10. In 2015, an article in the Bleacher Report ranked Brearley as England's greatest ever cricket captain.[2]

Brearley is married to Mana Sarabhai who is from Ahmedabad, India and they have two children together.[3]

Early life

Brearley was born in Harrow, Middlesex, England[citation needed] and was educated at the City of London School (where his father Horace, himself a first-class cricketer, was a master). While at St. John's College, Cambridge, Brearley excelled at cricket (he was then a wicketkeeper/batsman). After making 76 on his first-class debut as a wicketkeeper,[4] he played for Cambridge University between 1961 and 1968 (captaining the side in 1964), first as an undergraduate in the Classical and Moral Sciences tripos, and then as a postgraduate.

While still at Cambridge, he was chosen for the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) tour to South Africa in 1964–65, and to captain the MCC Under-25 side in Pakistan in 1966–67, where he scored 312 not out against North Zone[5] (his highest first-class score) and 223 against the Pakistan Under-25 side.[6] He ended the tour with 793 runs from six matches at an average of 132.

County cricket

From 1961 onwards, he played for Middlesex County Cricket Club, often opening the innings with Michael Smith. As captain between 1971 and 1982, he led Middlesex to County Championships in 1976, 1977 (jointly with Kent), 1980 and 1982;[7] and he appeared in Free Foresters' very last first-class fixture, in 1968, keeping wicket and scoring 91.[8]

International cricket

This section of a biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately from the article and its talk page, especially if potentially libelous.Find sources: "Mike Brearley" – news · newspapers · books · scholar · JSTOR (April 2017) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

In part because of his pursuit of an academic career as a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne,[9] which limited his cricketing activity in 1969 and 1970, Brearley was not selected for England until the age of 34 in 1976. His record in Test cricket as a batsman was modest (he averaged 22.88 in 66 Test innings, without a century), but he was an outstanding captain. He made his highest test score of 91 on tour against India in February 1977.[10] Having previously kept wicket, he was also a fine slip catcher, usually at first slip. He took over as captain of England later in 1977.

His management skills (he was once described by Rodney Hogg as having "a degree in people") drew the best from the players in his team, although he was fortunate to be able to call on the services of Bob Willis, David Gower and Ian Botham at their peak. Brearley was captain during the infamous aluminium bat incident in 1979, when he objected to Dennis Lillee's use of a metal bat instead of one made of willow.[11] On the same tour, he caused controversy at the end of an international one-day match against the West Indies at the Sydney Cricket Ground when he ordered all his fielders, including the wicketkeeper, to the boundary with three runs required off the last ball (this was legal under the rules of the time).[12]

In all, Botham and Willis took 262 wickets during the 31 test matches that Brearley captained.[13] The importance of Willis in particular to England led Brearley into further controversies regarding the bowling of short-pitched deliveries at recognised tailend batsmen, during Pakistan's tour of England in 1978,[14] and more briefly, during England's 1978–9 tour of Australia.[15] Brearley himself had been an innovator regarding cricket equipment himself, wearing a 'skull cap' under his England cap in 1977 (in the days before players wore helmets). It consisted of a plastic protector with two side pieces protecting his temples. It was later popularised by the Indian batsman Sunil Gavaskar.[16][17]

Brearley captained England to the final of the 1979 Cricket World Cup, scoring 53 in the semi-final against New Zealand[18] and 64 in the final against the West Indies.[19] However, his opening partnership of 129 with Geoff Boycott in the final used up 38 of 60 allotted overs; although it was recognised that a potent pace attack of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft and Joel Garner needed to be countered, the speed of the partnership greatly added to the pressure on the rest of the order. Garner bowled a spell of 5 wickets for 4 runs to induce a drastic collapse and hand the West Indies the match and the World Cup by 92 runs.[20]

Having passed the England captaincy to Ian Botham in 1980 (losing his Test place in the process), Brearley returned as captain following Botham's resignation for the third Test against Australia at Headingley in 1981,[21] going on to win the match and two of the remaining three matches of the series to win the Ashes 3–1.

His leadership benefited from Botham's recovered form following his winless captaincy record and his nosedive in form (he had made a pair in the second Test at Lord's) to take a first-innings 6 for 95 and score 50 and 149 not out in the third Test at Headingley, bowl a spell of 5 wickets for 1 run in the fourth Test at Edgbaston, score 118 from 102 balls in the fifth Test at Old Trafford, and take a 10-wicket match haul (6 for 125 and 4 for 128) in the sixth Test at the Oval.[22] In spite of his limited reputation as an international batsman, Brearley also made an important if less high-profile contribution to the fourth test, scoring more runs than any other batsman (61) in a match which England won by 29 runs.[23]

Post-cricket career

Brearley opposed sporting links with apartheid South Africa, seconding a motion to the MCC in 1968 calling for the cessation of tours until there was actual progress towards non-racial cricket. He seconded the motion from David Sheppard to the MCC, calling for the England tour to South Africa to be cancelled, and was a supporter of John Arlott who campaigned in The Guardian for the same objective.[24][25]

He is now a psychoanalyst, psychotherapist (registered with the BPC), motivational speaker, and part-time cricket journalist for The Times. He was appointed an OBE in 1978, and published The Art of Captaincy in 1985. He published another book, On Form, in 2017.[26] In 1998, he became an Honorary Fellow of his Cambridge college, St. John's[27] and in 2006 was awarded an honorary doctorate by Oxford Brookes University.[28]

Brearley succeeded Doug Insole as President of MCC on 1 October 2007, and chose Derek Underwood to succeed him at the end of his term.[29] He was president of the British Psychoanalytical Society, 2008–10.[30]

Brearley lives in London.[31]



  1. ^ "Statistics, Team Records, Test Matches". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 17 February 2022.
  2. ^ Lancaster, Rob. "Ranking England's 12 Greatest Test Captains". Bleacher Report. Retrieved 28 November 2021.
  3. ^ Pleydell-Bouverie, Clare. "The Brearleys". The Telegraph. Kolkata. Archived from the original on 17 February 2021. Retrieved 17 February 2021.
  4. ^ "Cambridge University v Surrey: University Match 1961". CricketArchive. Archived from the original on 31 March 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  5. ^ "North Zone v Marylebone Cricket Club Under-25s: Marylebone Cricket Club Under-25s in Pakistan 1966/67". CricketArchive. Archived from the original on 18 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  6. ^ "Pakistan Under-25s v Marylebone Cricket Club Under-25s: Marylebone Cricket Club Under-25s in Pakistan 1966/67". CricketArchive. Archived from the original on 18 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  7. ^ "County Championship Winners". 21 November 2005. Archived from the original on 21 November 2005. Retrieved 4 April 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  8. ^ "Oxford University v Free Foresters: University Match 1968". CricketArchive. Archived from the original on 18 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  9. ^ "The British Psychoanalytical Society : Psychoanalytic Technique Today" (PDF). Archived from the original on 27 June 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "Full Scorecard of India Vs England 5th Test 1976-7". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  11. ^ Williamson, Martin (25 September 2004). "Heavy metal at the WACA". ESPNcricinfo. Archived from the original on 6 February 2017. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  12. ^ Williamson, Martin (23 May 2009). "I do declare". ESPNcricinfo. Archived from the original on 17 June 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Bowling records, test matches". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  14. ^ "the end of the innocence". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  15. ^ "The umpire who called time". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  16. ^ de Lisle, Charles (28 May 1988). "If you want to keep ahead, get a helmet". The Daily Telegraph. London. p. 13. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  17. ^ Lokendra Pratap Sahi (9 January 2018). "Brearley, Imran and Gavaskar's skull cap". The Telegraph. Kolkata. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  18. ^ "1st SF: England v New Zealand at Manchester". 20 June 1979. Archived from the original on 7 July 2012. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  19. ^ "Final: England v West Indies at Lord's". ESPNcricinfo. 23 June 1979. Archived from the original on 7 January 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  20. ^ "Full Scorecard of England vs West Indies, Final 1979". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  21. ^ Martin-Jenkins, Christopher (20 July 2006). "The great escape". ESPNcricinfo. Archived from the original on 17 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  22. ^ "Australia tour of England 1981". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  23. ^ "England vs Australia 4th test, 1981". ESPNcricinfo. Retrieved 21 March 2022.
  24. ^ "Three motions". The Guardian. 3 December 1968. p. 15. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  25. ^ Shindler, Colin (14 June 2020). "The 'Stop The Seventy Tour' Saga: Protests, Politics & Unwanted Paintjobs". Wisden. Retrieved 13 March 2022.
  26. ^ a b "A former England cricket captain explores the question of "form"". The Economist. 7 September 2017. Archived from the original on 8 September 2017. Retrieved 8 September 2017.
  27. ^ "Honorary Fellows of the College". St John's College Cambridge. Archived from the original on 11 March 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  28. ^ "Michael Brearley – Oxford Brookes University". 17 January 2010. Archived from the original on 17 January 2010. Retrieved 4 April 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  29. ^ "Brearley to be new MCC president". BBC News. 2 May 2007. Archived from the original on 17 August 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
  30. ^ "The Institute of Psychoanalysis". 24 November 2011. Archived from the original on 24 November 2011. Retrieved 4 April 2017.((cite web)): CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  31. ^ Brearley, Mike (2020). Spirit of Cricket: Reflections on Play and Life. Little, Brown Book Group Limited. ISBN 9781472133977.
  32. ^ "Turning Over the Pebbles by Mike Brearley | Waterstones".

Further reading

  • Peel, Mark (2020). Cricketing Caesar: A Biography of Mike Brearley. Chichester, West Sussex: Pitch Publishing. ISBN 9781785316623.
Sporting positions Preceded byTony GreigIan Botham English national cricket captain 1977–1980(Geoffrey Boycott deputised 1977/78)1981 Succeeded byIan BothamKeith Fletcher Preceded byPeter Parfitt Middlesex county cricket captain 1971–1982 Succeeded byMike Gatting Preceded byDoug Insole Marylebone Cricket Club President 2007–2008 Succeeded byDerek Underwood
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Mike Brearley
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