Cricket: Atherton's hopes for Gough

Darren Gough may still play in the West Indies this winter. As Derek Pringle reports, Michael Atherton was yesterday still holding out hope for England's best fast bowler.

England's cricketers left holly and hurricanes behind to jet off to the Caribbean this morning. Unfortunately they also left behind their best bowler, which on the face of it is a bit like being invited to a barbecue and then having your incisors removed.

Darren Gough's late withdrawal on New Year's Eve came as a surprise to Michael Atherton, though the England captain hinted that the fast bowler could well rejoin the tour at a later date should his hamstring problems clear up.

Speaking at the team's Gatwick hotel last night, a fit and relaxed-looking Atherton said: "Goughie's withdrawal is disappointing for us and him. Since the South African tour, he's been back to his best. But injury is part and parcel of the game. You've just got to learn to get on with it. Although Goughie would definitely be one of the first-choice bowlers, it gives opportunities to others like Angus Fraser who might not have been."

With the first Test not starting until 29 January, it will give ample time for the other bowlers to work out ways of doing without him. Indeed, with Gough's injury not apparently structural, it is not out of the question that he could be declared fit during the tour.

"I spoke to him not long ago," Atherton said. "He's got hope in the back of his mind and he sees a specialist in about three or four weeks' time. If he gets the all-clear, I don't see why he can't be available for the back end of the tour. The first Test isn't for another month."

Atherton, who has spent the last three weeks holidaying in Jamaica, is adamant that England have their best chance in 30 years of beating the West Indies on home soil.

"The Pakistan result has certainly hit everyone pretty hard out there, but as ever, they are looking forward to England coming," he said. "We have an excellent chance of doing well, and while it is difficult to predict results, recent contests between the two sides have been close and hard fought. Although they are not as strong as the sides of the Eighties, they shouldn't be underestimated at home.

"Playing at our best, as we did against Australia at Edgbaston and The Oval, we can beat anyone. However, consistency is the key, and if we play like we did in the middle of last summer, we won't beat anyone."

According to Atherton and those of his team who have played there before, the Caribbean is probably the best tour of all. But while their predecessors had bits chipped off them by an unrelenting pace attack, the current generation has grown up with an admiration and respect for the way West Indies cricket is played and watched.

It should make for a happy side and a happy captain, a consideration the selectors clearly had in mind when they confirmed Atherton as one- day captain as well. They knew that had they appointed Adam Hollioake instead that it might well niggle away at him, distracting him from the main task of winning the Test series. Without the fast bowling of Darren Gough, that objective has become just a little more distant.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Guru Careers: Product Training Specialist / Software Trainer

£25 - 32,500K (DOE) + Excellent Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Produ...

Recruitment Genius: Unqualified NVQ Assessors - Health, Social Care & Management

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning independent ...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Advisor - OTE £30,000

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence
Public relations as 'art'? Surely not

Confessions of a former PR man

The 'art' of public relations is being celebrated by the V&A museum, triggering some happy memories for DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef succumbs to his sugar cravings with super-luxurious sweet treats

Bill Granger's luxurious sweet treats

Our chef loves to stop for 30 minutes to catch up on the day's gossip, while nibbling on something sweet
London Marathon 2015: Paula Radcliffe and the mother of all goodbyes

The mother of all goodbyes

Paula Radcliffe's farewell to the London Marathon will be a family affair
Everton vs Manchester United: Steven Naismith demands 'better' if Toffees are to upset the odds against United

Steven Naismith: 'We know we must do better'

The Everton forward explains the reasons behind club's decline this season
Arsenal vs Chelsea: Praise to Arsene Wenger for having the courage of his convictions

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Praise to Wenger for having the courage of his convictions