Darren Gough (PA)

By SportUK 10/07/2012 13:42

Coming at number seven, Mark Boucher was always a true wicket-keeper/batsman. In fact he could probably have got in most teams as a pure batsman. 

 

Mark Boucher is hit by a flying bailGilchrist will be remembered as the best but Boucher was not far behind in terms of his competitiveness and attitude. He was fantastic behind the stumps and tremendously quick scoring from short ball and full ball. When bowler were tiring he was really hard to play against and had that ability to turn around an innings in a short time.

 

Everyone who has played will know it takes guts to stand up at the wicket, especially wearing just a cap. A lot of guys nowadays wear full facemasks and I expect we'll see that more now.

 

His injury is a real shame, although I suppose the one thing he can be grateful for is that he's had opportunity to show the world on many occasions what a great player he was. No one can question his cricketing ability.

 

I wish him all the best in his recovery.

 

By SportUK 09/07/2012 11:55

When will the real Australia stand up? With one ODI remaining, they're three-nil down to England - with one match cancelled thanks to our beautiful British weather at Edgbaston.(Image AP Photo-Scott Heppell)

 

As well as being a money-spinning spectacle for the ECB, this ODI series was supposed to be a showcase for Australia's new breed of cricketer.

 

Well, these young Aussies haven’t shone so far and certainly haven’t done anything to increase my appetite for the Ashes series next year.

 

People have talked about England seeing too much of the old enemy and that it will dilute the next Ashes series, but I thought it was important we had a look at some of Australia’s new faces as we've been told they were almost back to their best and would challenge us in all forms of the game.

 

What a serious wake-up call for Australia's coach and media! All I've seen so far has been mediocre cricket from Australia.

 

It's back to the drawing board as the team they've put out against England isn't good enough or just not tough enough - a phrase often used to describe the England team of the 90s which I represented who were battered time and time again. After a while that criticism started to have an effect on certain players within our side.

 

Shane Watson, an experienced quality cricketer, said only last week that England's long batting tail was a big weakness which Australia were looking to exploit. Well, Mr Watson, your bowling attack hasn't got through to Tim Bresnan, England’s number seven, once in the entire series!

 

Maybe, come the final one-dayer at Old Trafford, you might win a dead rubber just like England used to in the good old days – something your media used to remind us of on a daily basis!

 

David Warner (Phil Cole-PA Wire)Australia's weakness has been in the batting department. They no longer have players who can bat long and dominate games.

 

David Warner on home soil or a slow pitch in India could really hurt you but in English conditions against our attack he doesn’t offer the same threat.

 

For me, George Bailey looks a player trying to prove his worth in the team – he lacks confidence and gives off those vibes. Steve Smith is a Michael Clarke-clone but he’s just not in the same class as his skipper and is probably batting two places too high.

 

One positive for the Aussies is their bowling unit. Although they haven't got through England’s top order yet, they will have gained useful experience in English conditions and shown glimpses of class that could trouble our batsman in future contests.

 

One problem for them, something that troubled England in Ashes series of old, is that they still haven’t got a quality spinner, someone in the same class as Graeme Swann. On the evidence of this current one day series, this is a huge dilemma that the Aussies need to address urgently.

 

Follow me on Twitter @DGoughie

 

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By Duncan Hooper 09/07/2012 07:34

At the end of Wimbledon 2012 we saw the real Andy Murray. We saw a turning point in an individual’s career and a nation’s psyche.

 

Andy MurrayA lot of people who had doubted him, who had judged him and criticised him will have seen a completely different picture.

 

Some sportsmen (and women) never reveal their true selves because they are so preoccupied with their public face, the face they present to thieir opponents when they play.

 

Murray is serious on court, he plays to win and is focused on every little detail to do that. And in press conferences he is dull and dry so people think that’s how he is.

 

Celebrities who like the attention and joke about are always popular – look at Andrew Flintoff or Mario Balotelli – but those who prefer to be out of the spotlight never catch the imagination in the same way which is how it's been with Andy.

 

But we had him in at TalkSport a few weeks ago: he was funny, joking about and really passionate and what he was doing. He changed a lot of people’s minds in the studio - even cynical sports journalists.

In an individual event it’s crucial not to show weakness: I notice it when I’m playing golf - if your opponent can see any opening he will take advantage. With a team it’s different because you can’t hide in the dressingroom and your teammates spend all that time with you so can see what’s going on during the highs and lows.

 

Look at Federer: everyone loves him because he’s obviously a nice bloke but you never know on court what he’s thinking- whether he’s tired or hurting or weak. He's a smooth international operator but British heros generally aren't made like that.

 

There will always be people who dislike Andy Murray. People even seem to think it’s a problem that his mum supports him when he goes on court, I just can’t understand it.

 

But today in playing like he did and being a gentleman and obviously being choked  he will have won over a whole mass of people.

 

Before I think he didn’t really have the confidence to be himself, but now that he’s broken the boundary I think he could be a different player, unencumbered.

This could be exactly what he needs to lift the burden of expectation and create a force for good. Let’s hope so.

 

By SportUK 06/06/2012 14:00

In beating the West Indies at Trent Bridge to go 2-0 up in the series, England made the third test at Edgbaston a dead rubber. As a result, they've chosen to leave James Anderson out of the side, a decision that has received a mixed response from the media, supporters and from Jimmy himself who has stated that he wanted to play.

 

Being an ex-international myself, I can see where Jimmy is coming from. As players, you want to play at every opportunity, especially international matches.James Anderson (AP Photo-Tom Hevezi)

 

With Jimmy playing at the top of his game right now and fast approaching the golden landmark of 300 test wickets, his worry would be that you never know what is around the corner. I’m talking from my own experience: injury struck me down at my peak.

 

Saying all this I do believe it is the right decision to rest him. There is a very busy few months coming up.

 

First up is the one day series against the West Indies and Australia followed by the big one, the three-Test series against South Africa which will confirm which country is the real number one test team in the world.

 

Following those series comes the biggest test for any cricketer, a Test tour in India, which is always a hard tour for a bowler, and England don’t have a great record travelling there.

 

Another reason resting Jimmy is a good thing for England is that we need to have a look at Steve Finn - who is one hell of a talent - and Graham Onions who’s back to his best after back surgery and is desperate for a chance to perform once again for England and cement his place in the touring squad in the winter.

 

KP's one-day retirement

 

Another headline-grabbing moment of the past week was Kevin Pietersen’s shock retirement from all international one-day cricket with immediate effect.Kevin Pietersen (AP Photo-Tom Hevezi)

 

Knowing Kevin well, I know he wanted to carry on playing T20 cricket for England, but the way the contracts are written, you aren’t able to play one form of limited over cricket and not the other - which is absolutely ridiculous!

 

Kevin's retirement is not a financial issue at all. With him being eligible only for Test cricket, his contract with the ECB will now be reduced. He also has to pay the ECB a large percentage of his IPL earnings even though he doesn’t miss any training or cricket matches for England.

 

One glimmer of light in this situation is that the players contracts are up for renewal in September so you never know, KP may not have completely given up hope of playing international T20 again.

 

So let’s hope that come September, England’s players' representatives change the contracts and he becomes available to play in the T20 World Cup.

 

Personally, I feel that he shouldn’t be penalised for being good at all three forms of cricket. It strikes me as a case of double standards team captain Andrew Strauss' contract remains unchanged when he doesn’t play limited overs internationals because he is not suited to the shorter forms of the game but KP has to 'retire' in order to get the same treatment form the ECB.

 

Brilliant Bresnan

 

Tim Bresnan (AP Photo-Tom Hevezi)Tim Bresnan has played is 13 Tests and has enjoyed 13 wins. He could be accused of being England's lucky charm but he's so much more than that.

 

Bres is a big, gentle, cuddly character. He’s definitely not the sharpest tool in the box, but he is fantastic to have in the dressing room.

He’s very capable with the bat and he’d be in the top six of the order for most county sides.

 

With the ball in hand he keeps it very tight, but when he sees an opening or the ball starts swinging he goes into attack mode immediately. Bres bowls good heat around 84mph but is capable of high 80s. He also bowls some cracking Yorkers and is able to handle reverse swing with great control.

 

I'm looking forward to his England success continuing for a long time to come.

 

Follow me on Twitter @DGoughie

 

By SportUK 24/05/2012 17:06

After taking part in the Aberdeen Asset Management Ladies Scottish Open I've come to the conclusion womens sport deserves much more credit than it gets. I want to be one of the first to say how surprised was by the pure talent and dedication required to play on the Ladies European tour where their reward is minimal compared with themassive amount of effort involved.

 

Darren Gough at the Scottish OpenI was invited to play in the Pro AM open over three days at the magnificent Archerfield Links in North Berwick, Scotland I partnered the legend that is Laura Davies CBE (should be Dame) and after two rounds we were on top of the leaderboard on -16. The other two players in our fourkarr ball were top pro Carin Koch from Sweden and twinkle toes himself Brendon Cole (he had an absolute 'mare by the way and didn't make the cut).

 

The final round came along and everything was perfect: the course, the Scottish weather, I was hitting my new Orka driver on the range like a dream but once I got out there knowing I was leading things didn't quite go as planned: I couldn't hit a fairway, 4 foot puts felt like 10 foot and we ended up finishing 6th in the pairs event.

 

By SportUK 13/05/2012 11:42

I grew up a huge West Indian cricket fan. I always admired their philosophy on cricket: bowling as fast as you can and hitting the ball as far as you can.

 

In one of my first 1st class games, Mike Watkinson even described me as “the first white West Indian to play for Yorkshire”, something I obviously took as a huge compliment.

 

But I’m slightly worried about this current West Indian team coming over to England so early in the summer given the current conditions we are experiencing.

 

Chris Gayle playing in the IPL (AP Photo-Rajanish Kakade)It's not just the bowler-friendly conditions; their best players, Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo, are still busy filling their deep pockets in the IPL and, as comical as it sounds, Marlon Samuels got stuck in transit returning from the IPL where he’s being talked about for all the wrong reasons.

 

As I write this, their two Guyanese players, Narsingh Deonarine and Assad Fudadin are still in Jamaica trying to get their visas. Can it get any worse?

 

The Windies, currently ranked the seventh best team in the world, are coming up against a confident and strong all-round England side still ranked No 1 that will believe they can thrash the tourists 3-0.

 

When you look at the West Indian bowlers, you think about the serious pace of Kemar Roach and Fidel Edwards leading the attack. They’re very small for quickies - not exactly Walsh and Ambrose – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous.

 

Look at Malcolm Marshall, the greatest West Indian bowler of them all. He destroyed England many times – but what he had was control as well as express pace.

 

Roach and Edwards will certainly set the English batsmen’s hearts racing and Strauss, Cook, KP and co will have to watch them carefully but overall, with Ravi Rampaul and Darren Sammy supporting the quicks, the Windies bowling might not be strong enough.

 

Their spin threat will come from Samuels and Shane Shillingford, both of whom have had problems with their bowling actions. Shillingford is the better of the two, having picked up 14 wickets in the series against Australia at an average of under 30.

 

For me, it’s the batting front where the Windies will struggle, paying the price for leaving out good technical players like Ramnaresh Sarwan and Dion Nash – who are both playing in our domestic game for Leicestershire and Kent.

 

They will rely heavily on the middle order of Shiv Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo.Shivnarine Chanderpaul acknowledges applause after reaching 10,000 Test runs (AP Photo-Andres Leighton)

 

Chanderpaul has just become only the second West Indian batsman to reach 10,000 test runs. He’s a man who has terrific insight into English conditions and, more importantly, he’s a man in form having made 346 runs in the test series against Australia at 86.50. He’ll have to anchor the side as the top order won't be able to handle Jimmy Anderson with the new cherry in his hand.

 

Bravo is another player who has experienced English conditions thanks to a short spell with Notts last season. He averages just under 50 in Tests and, for the Windies to stand any chance of avoiding a whitewash, he’ll have to do more than just share the technique of his cousin Brian Lara, he’ll have to play like him too.

 

If the weather stays fine and the tourists win or even draw a test, they’ll feel they’ve had a successful time of it and can remain positive about the future of West Indies cricket.

 

My all-time West Indies XI

 

  1. Gordon Greenidge
  2. Desmond Haynes
  3. Viv Richards
  4. Carl Hooper
  5. Alvin Kallicharran
  6. Gary Sobers
  7. Jeff Dujon
  8. Malcolm Marshall
  9. Curtly Ambrose
  10. Andy Roberts
  11. Michael Holding

Who’d be in your greatest ever Windies side?

 

Follow Darren Gough on Twitter

 

To keep up with the county scene I'll be hosting a new monthly show called Goughie's LV county catch-up at ecb.co.uk/LVCC. You can watch live editions of the show throughout the summer at www.facebook.com/englandcricket

 

By SportUK 27/04/2012 15:10

Over the past five years, I wish I had a pound for every fan or ex-cricketer who said to me the Indian Premier League would have been right up my street.

 

Let me tell you: of course it would be! A million dollars to bowl a maximum of four overs per game over six weeks work! It’s the dream ticket.Sachin Tendulkar in action for the Mumbai Indians (AP Photo)

 

The IPL organisers do a superb job: plenty of razzamatazz, colour and personality which make it a truly spectacular event. Don’t forget about the dancing girls, fireworks and Bollywood stars on show!

 

I reckon all those fans and ex-pros might be correct in thinking I would have loved the whole package of the IPL. Well, one of my many nicknames was ‘Box Office Gough’.

 

I believe India will be the only country that will enjoy continued success with this T20 format. That won’t just be down to the cricket mad culture in India, but also the fact that India is home to some of the richest businessmen around.

 

All they want to do with their spare cash is boost their egos and mix with some of the best cricketers from around the world, so what do they do? Buy their own franchise and the players they want (but probably not who the coach wants).

 

There are nine teams in this year’s IPL with each team playing 16 games. By the time the final is played, there will have been a mammoth 75 matches and, remarkably, most of those games will have been played with huge crowds cheering on their teams.

 

A lot of cynics didn't think the IPL would last but here we are in year five and the tournament is getting bigger and better. Cricketers from around the globe are desperate to get picked up in the auction with a chance to showcase themselves onto the world stage.

 

Players I've spoken to like Ryan ten Doeschate and KP can't praise the IPL enough. They feel that the whole package is a wonderful experience. The improvement it brings to your one day game is obvious to see. Then there’s the improvement to your bank balance of course, let’s not forget that!

 

The downside of the IPL has been certain cricketers have neglected their commitments to their countries in favour of earning megabucks by becoming ‘freelance cricketers’. I'm afraid to say this is going to be the norm in 5-10 years. In some cases players have cut short their Test careers by two or three years to make sure they don't miss the money train.

 

Lasith Malinga, one of the few genuine strike bowlers in the IPL (AP Photo-Rajanish Kakade)Another negative effect of the IPL is the fact that strike bowlers are disappearing from one day cricket. With teams worried about containing the run rate, wicket-taking bowlers are being replaced by part-time dobbers, as we call them up north.

 

Remember it’s the bowlers that win you matches by taking 10 wickets. Where are the genuine pacemen bowling devastating yorkers?

 

In the current IPL, only Lasith Maligna, Brett Lee and Dale Steyn come to mind as bowlers able to rip through batsmen with this delivery, and that’s a concern. It’s also why you’ll see too many sixes smashed off mediocre part-time bowlers.

 

But let’s focus on the positives. In addition to the big shots and the razzmatazz, I feel the IPL has also helped improve the standard of fielding around the world.

 

With so many close games, everyone can see how a run-saving stop can change the result of a match. Fielding is rightly considered as an important skill, making three-dimensional cricketers a must-have in any team.

 

Follow Darren Gough on Twitter

To keep up with the English county scene I'll be hosting a monthly show called Goughie's LV county catch-up at ecb.co.uk/LVCC. You can watch live editions of the show throughout the summer at www.facebook.com/englandcricket

 

By SportUK 07/04/2012 16:36

Let’s be honest, England have played five Test matches over the winter, they’ve bowled well in four and batted well in one – and the one they batted well in, they won.

 

Kevin Pietersen, match winnerAnd when you talk about match-winning players, for all criticism he gets and it annoys me that he does get it, this is why you need Kevin Pietersen in the side. The way he played he just took the game away from Sri Lanka in one session. And what was that nonsense about the bowlers complaining about his switch hitting. I think it’s a brilliant shot to watch but I wouldn’t mind if I were an off-spinner and a right-handed batsman started getting bored and trying to play left handed. In fact I’d love it, he’s making it hard for himself and any bowler should want to bowl against a batsman who takes risks like that.

 

As for the other batsmen, Cook’s obviously done his job. Trott’s played well and steadied the ship but that doesn’t win you games - that’s what I’m saying. He’ll draw you games but Pietersen has got 29 hundreds - more than Graham Gooch who everyone considers a master of both forms of the game.

 

Bell didn’t get much of a go of it in Sri Lanka but is likely to keep his place. It’s the case that a batsman can go five or six matches without a score then he gets a 50 and earns five or six more. A bowler goes two games without a game and that’s the end of his career; batsmen get more chances.

 

And Strauss too will feel more comfortable now that No 1 position has been secured for a little longer, it gives him some breathing space to come back in home conditions and get some runs under his belt.

 

Among the bowlers, you’d expect Finn or Bresnan to make way for Broad, but Bresnan’s got that fantastic record of not losing - would you keep him in for that?

One bowler who is unlikely to feature this summer now is Monty Panesar, unless Swann picks up an injury. Swanny’s all-round ability: his batting, his slip fielding give him the edge but at one point it looked like his position was going to come under serious threat.

 

Monty will get another chance next winter in India and what a series that is shaping up to be. Duncan Fletcher’s had to go back to the drawing board both in the batting and bowling departments, bring in some discipline, improve fitness levels but by the end of the year his team might well be ready to face up to England. I’m not usually a big one for following the team abroad, I’ve done enough touring in my time but I quite fancy heading out for that.

 

Of course in the nearer future, we have the West Indies, who though they will be stronger than most people expect, should give England a good chance of a whitewash. Then South Africa, who will want to grab the No 1 slot. I don’t think they are strong enough at the moment. They haven’t got a real wicket-taking spinner or the same depth that England have - our second-string bowling attack could start a Test match.

 

So I think England will win that series too, even though they still lack a real quick bowler in the mould of Flintoff or Harmison. One player who could turn the tables will be Philander. He bowls a disciplined line, puts the seam in the right place and creates pressure. He’s already acclimatising on the county circuit and picking up wickets so in combination with the strike power of Steyn could cause real problems. But England have shown they’re more comfortable with pace than quality spin and the batsmen we have should be able to cope.

 
  • Darren GoughDarren Gough

    Former England strike bowler and Yorkshire captain Goughie talks all things cricket and occasionally shows off his knowledge of other sports...

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