Cricket: Gooch loses his part-time option: Illingworth lays down law on winter touring to former England captain

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The Independent Online
UNLESS he decides that winters in the sun are really not such a bad idea after all, Graham Gooch, the highest-scoring batsman in English Test history, has almost certainly biffed his last boundary in international cricket.

Never noted for beating around the bush, Ray Illingworth, the new chairman of selectors, is adamant that the former England captain must either commit himself as a candidate for next winter's Ashes tour or forgo a place in the future scheme of things.

'I'm not going to tolerate part- time players who want to pick and choose which series they play in,' Illingworth was quoted as saying in a national newspaper yesterday, a sentiment he later repeated on the BBC World Service.

Gooch had an international future, 'but only if he makes it clear now that he would be available for the Ashes series if selected. If he doesn't feel he can make that commitment then I think it's almost certain he won't play for England this summer. The only way would be a dire emergency.'

Gooch, 40, has long complained of the strain of touring and regrets being coaxed into returning to India last year. Recent separation from his wife may have induced a rethink, though the fact that the Essex secretary, Peter Edwards, expects him 'to be with us all summer' suggests otherwise.

This season, his last as Essex captain, Gooch intends to bat at No 5. Should he agree to go to Australia it would also be as a member of the middle order. The success of the Mike Atherton-Alec Stewart opening tandem in the Caribbean has persuaded Illingworth that the Surrey captain ought to go in first and forget about minding the stumps.

There were plenty of wickets and not many good shots played at Uxbridge as England Under-19 bowled out Middlesex Second XI for 236 and then lost six wickets for 126 in their second innings. Middlesex relied on Astab Habib (68) and Robin Simms (56) to restrict the deficit to 82.

David Fulton staked an early claim to open the batting for Kent when he scored his maiden senior century against Cambridge University at Fenner's. After the 22-year- old was out, hit wicket for 109, Neil Taylor scored an unbeaten 107 as the county finished on 363 for 3.

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