Cricket: England encourage Gough to hold back

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DARREN GOUGH faces a test not so much of his physical fitness and as of his self-control when he resumes his comeback in the four-day match against a Combined Free State-Griqualand West XI, starting here today.

The Yorkshire fast bowler proved his basic fitness in a net session to earn his place in the starting XI, and his first chance to bowl in match conditions since he took 2 for 46 in the opening match 10 days ago. Since then, Gough has been suffering with general stiffness - a consequence of his long lay-off last season with calf trouble. But with the opening Test only a fortnight away, England need their main strike bowler to curb his natural urge to push himself to the limit over the next four days.

"Goughie is just going to have to realise that he can't go full pelt," England's coach, Duncan Fletcher, said. "After a long break there's no way you can just charge in. He's played so many Tests, he just has to sort himself out - we can only offer advice, it's up to him to take heed of that and learn from the mistakes of the past."

England intend to share the bowling duties around but Alan Mullally and the all-rounder Gavin Hamilton are likely to carry the bulk of the attack, with the left-arm spinner Phil Tufnell and the part-time bowlers, Mark Butcher, Michael Vaughan and Chris Adams, also playing their part.

The selection of all-rounder Andrew Flintoff at No 7 to play just as a batsman suggests that Fletcher believes that Flintoff, though unable to bowl, can make a worthwhile contribution to with his hard-hitting strokeplay in the middle order.

Chris Read and Graeme Swann are waiting for their first opportunity and Fletcher's selection problems will be complicated further by the arrival of another Yorkshire fast bowler, Chris Silverwood, this weekend from the A tour as cover. Silverwood was given the call last night and faces an exhaustive journey from New Zealand to Australia and on to Johannesburg before joining up with the remainder of the squad in Bloemfontein on Sunday.

Selected for three Test squads last summer without making an appearance, Silverwood is determined to stake a claim for a place in the Test team even though he will only have next week's final warm-up match against a Combined Northerns-Gauteng XI at Centurion Park in which to impress.

"It's a good opportunity and when it comes along you have to try to grasp it with both hands," he said. "I felt I was a little bit unlucky to miss out on the Tests against the Kiwis at home after a good season with Yorkshire."

Should Silverwood finally achieve his ambition and play in the opening Test, at the Wanderers on 25 November and his county team-mates, Hamilton, Gough and Vaughan, were also selected, it would also mark a historic moment for Yorkshire.

If they did all play in Johannesburg, it would be the first time Yorkshire had provided four players for an England side since David Bairstow, Geoff Boycott, Chris Old and Graham Stephenson played against West Indies in a one-day international at St Vincent in February, 1981.

ENGLAND (v Combined Free State-Griqualand West XI, Bloemfontein, today): M A Butcher (Surrey), M A Atherton (Lancashire), *N Hussain (Essex), M P Vaughan (Yorkshire), A J Stewart (Surrey), C J Adams (Sussex), A Flintoff (Lancashire), G M Hamilton (Yorkshire), D Gough (Yorkshire), A D Mullally (Hampshire), P C R Tufnell (Middlesex).

Combined XI: *M I Gidley, G F J Liebenberg, L L Bosman, P H Barnard, F C Brooker, W Bossenger, H C Bakkes, J J Van Der Wath, G A Roe, A Abrahams, M N Van Wyk.