Cricket: Gough gets going on global plan: Glenn Moore on England's young fast-bowling prospect with an appetite and attitude for success

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The Independent Online
DARREN GOUGH is a deceptive lad - deceptively quick, deceptively bright and deceptively thoughtful. With his year-round tan and broad shoulders, he looks more like a footballer, one of those stocky, hard-tackling midfielders, than an international cricketer. It is an image encouraged by his air of nave amiability, which occasionally sees him described as 'a big, daft lad'.

But it is something of a false impression. Gough, who could make his England debut in the Texaco Trophy international against New Zealand today, has developed into a shrewd, hard-working fast bowler on the brink of a long Test career.

His rise has been dramatic - a year ago, he was still struggling to gain a regular place with Yorkshire - but its speed is testimony to his inate talent: all he needed was self- belief and drive. Richie Richardson supplied the first; Anna Gough, then his girlfriend, now his wife, encouraged the latter.

'Richie was the one who told me to bowl fast. He's captain of four of the best fast bowlers in the world and he told me I could do it,' Gough said. Richardson was particularly influential one day last May when he criticised him after Gough had been hit for successive fours off half-volleys by his new England team-mate Shaun

Udal in a county game. Two months later, Gough, having been dropped then recalled, revealed a couple of extra yards of pace as he took 7 for 42 at Taunton.

Equally important was the lack of an overseas fast bowler at Yorkshire. Had they signed Craig McDermott, as intended, Gough believes he would have been last in a line of five seam bowlers.

Two years ago, admits Gough, 'I was eating too much junk food. I was overweight, I was never a porker, but I was known as 'guzzler', I ate and drank too much.' But then Anna took a hand.

'She dragged me to the gym and after a while I became addicted to exercising. I lost a lot of weight through running and gym work then built up muscles with weights. I still do it, you have to be fit to be a fast bowler.'

As Dennis Lillee and Richard Hadlee illustrated, to be a long- lasting fast bowler you have to have brains to go with the brawn. Gough has also been thinking about his game, listening to advice and asking about the way bowlers like Fred Trueman played.

'I am an attacking bowler,' he said. 'I bowl a yorker, a bouncer, a slower ball, so obviously my line has to be good. If you bowl two four-balls an over, there is no point in bowling fast.'

His ability to progress quickly was apparent in the winter when, having been taken to the Netherlands with England, then finally capped by Yorkshire, he was picked for the A tour of South Africa.

Gough got better and quicker as the tour went on, ending with five wickets in the second innings of the 'Test' match and tour figures only beaten by Mark Ilott. In just one game did he struggle, when England, with a weakened attack, lost heavily to Natal. With Martin Bicknell injured and Martin McCague used in short bursts, Gough bore the brunt and his inexperience showed.

But he did not give up - Gough will not feel uncomfortable in the Illingworth world of 100 per cent commitment. Unusually for a modern bowler, he is rarely injured, and if he is, he still wants to play.

The England captain, Michael Atherton, said of him yesterday: 'He has come on tremendously. After Devon (Malcolm), he is as quick as anyone in the country. He has a good yorker, a good slower ball, a good attitude and good prospects.'

At 23, there is plenty of time for Gough to learn about the wider world. A four-month tour of Australia next winter is in his grasp; the rest of the cricket globe beckons.

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