Reeve determined to keep focused on job at hand

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 September, 1995, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 September, 1995, 12:00am

HE has been England's most successful county captain over the past three years and has also tasted glory as England's Sixes captain. But is Dermot Reeve, the Hong Kong boy who made good, a future England Test captain? One of England's most famous skippers, Geoff Boycott, certainly believes that Warwickshire captain Reeve would be the ideal choice to one day take over the England reins.

Speaking on BBC's popular Saturday afternoon sports show Grandstand two weeks ago, Boycott set the English cricket community abuzz when he said that Reeve, with six trophies in three years as skipper of Warwickshire, was the best captain in England and that the Yorkshireman would have loved to have played under him.

Not one to often dish out compliments, Boycott added that should current England captain Mike Atherton get injured during the forthcoming tour of South Africa, 'they should forget about the vice-captain and fly Reeve over'.

Reeve himself is dismissive of such talk, preferring to maintain the policy he has successfully instilled in his championship-winning Warwickshire side of limiting ambitions to the task at hand, which, at the moment, is to help England win their third successive Cathay Pacific/Wharf Holdings Hong Kong Invitation Sixes this weekend.

But that's not to say he has totally discarded hopes of returning to the international fold as part of the England team regardless of who is captain.

'I don't worry about it,' said Reeve, 32, soon after his arrival in the territory.

'I have ambitions to play internationally again at the next World Cup, but I don't really like to set goals. Like the success at Warwickshire - it is only for the time. In 10 years time everyone could have forgotten about it and it may only be used as a dinner conversation.

'I've been picked, with two others, as a standby with the probability - I hope it's a probability more than a possibility - of joining the England team in South Africa. If that happens, I would be happy to play under Mike Atherton.' Like Reeve, many English cricketers would like to play under Atherton, for it means a place in the England squad.

But there are also many cricketers in England who like playing under Reeve, as has been proved by the happy-go-lucky Warwickshire side, whose cavalier spirit has taken them to two English County Championship titles, two NatWest Trophy titles, one Benson and Hedges Cup triumph and a Sunday League title over three seasons.

His captaincy methods have been described as unorthodox but inventive and, with quality players at his disposal, they definitely work.

This season Warwickshire won the County Championship, the NatWest Trophy and finished runners-up in the Sunday League - successes which Reeve cherishes even more than the three titles he led the county to in 1994.

'Having sat back and looked at it all, I'm more satisfied with this year's performances. We silenced a few critics who felt last year was a one-off fluke and we were lucky and they were trying to search for a reason,' he said.

'The reason was because of the quality of players we had.' Warwickshire had to do without the services of prolific West Indian batsman Brian Lara, who had Test commitments, and, for the early part of the season, South African pace bowler Allan Donald, who subsequently finished on top of the county averages, with 87 wickets.

Still, Reeve felt he had a strong team bound together by an unflappable will to win and will not be burdened by a fear of losing.

'It's very difficult for me to comment on myself as a captain,' he said. 'I have to leave it to other observers.

'We've been playing with self-belief and for the enjoyment of the team. You can only play your best when you are relaxed and confident.

'There are batsmen who play with the fear of failure and as a result they can tense up. It's very important that your mind and brain are relaxed.

'No one is allowed to be negative. We always say 'bad luck' or something like that and it helps to inject a bit of humour into the team.'