Sportsview by David Eidlestein
INSTALLING Mike Gatting as president of the MCC, the very epitome of the cricket establishment, might seem a bit like putting Luis Suarez in charge of football discipline.
Gatting, remember, for all his brilliance with a bat in his hand, was a fiery and combative character often embroiled in controversy during a long playing career.
In 1987 he was involved in a furious flare-up with umpire Shakoor Rana in Faisalabad and had to be dragged away by team-mate Bill Athey. The England captain had to provide a written apology before the Test could resume.
A year later Gatting was sacked as captain after an alleged encounter with a Leicester hotel barmaid. A year later he led a highly controversial rebel tour to Apartheid South Africa.
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It is hardly the sort of pedigree you might expect for the new head of the Marylebone Cricket Club, owners of Lord's and traditional guardians of the laws and spirit of cricket.
But since retiring from the first-class game 15 years ago, Gatting has become an increasingly effective and influential presence in the game's corridors of power, working as an England selector and coach, leading the Professional Cricketers' Association and taking a senior admin role with the EWCB.
This winter he will be in Australia, where in 1987 he led England to Ashes success, and he is confident the current team can repeat this summer's achievements. Typically he mocks fears of an Aussie backlash and is backing England to win the series 4-1. He does, though, accept that the team need to work on their image after some bad recent headlines.
The Middlesex stalwart's one-year term as MCC president coincides with the bicentenary of Lord's, and the future development of the ground is at the centre of a heated and widespread debate.
Gatting is also anxious to construct better links with the immediate neighbourhood of the ground – "reach out into the local community," he says - believing that the MCC has focused too much on helping foster cricket around the world while neglecting the need to involve their neighbours.
The man who took up cricket after being told he was too short and fat to be a goalkeeper for QPR has a busy agenda in the coming year – but he has shown many times over the years that he has what it takes to succeed.
Football and other major sports could benefit from drawing on the experience and know-how of some of their legendary former players.