Cricket: Gough mines rich seam in recapturing razzle-dazzle

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THE DAZZLER was sparkling again yesterday in the land of diamonds. He twinkled, preened and generally dispensed earthy wisdom on the little local difficulties of his team-mates from the captain down. It was a tour de force from Darren Gough in the art of holding court and he glittered so much that he might have come from Kimberley not Barnsley.

Coming as it did after his two for 27 in a rain-affected match in Johannesburg on Sunday when England took a 1-0 in the seven-match series, you could only wonder at his demeanour when he properly runs through the opposition. But those figures, involving rigorous accuracy with the new ball, satisfied universal demand.

For the fourth, fifth or perhaps 10th time, Goughy, the Dazzler himself, was back. He is back so much that at 34 he is the first seam bowling name down on the team sheet.

"Once you're over 30 in England you get written off. But I'm in better shape than I was at 30. My knee is under control, I'm not wearing any strapping, just going to Germany for injections occasionally and I'm running again after three years. I've worked on simple things like keeping the arm up higher, things you can get a little bit lazy about."

If Gough on Gough is always splendid value, he relishes his new role as senior professional, although daft lad to elder statesman is a big leap. But he was compelling in defence of his captain Michael Vaughan, who has been accused by match referee Clive Lloyd of being rude and dismissive at a disciplinary hearing.

"I've known him since he was 15, seen him grow up. I know him inside out and I wouldn't say he was rude. His facial expressions can sometimes make him look it, but it's not that at all. He's a very polite bloke, deadpan, but that's just him thinking."

Gough also offered his thoughts on the struggling seamers, Stephen Harmison and James Anderson. "I don't think Steve is doing much wrong, he just needs that little spark. He's 6ft 7in tall and bowls at 90mph, it won't be long before he's taking wickets again. Same with Jimmy, I've never seen a bowler who can bowl like he can with late swing. He'll get confidence by going back to Lancashire and playing some cricket."

The man-of-the-match award could easily have gone to Gough, instead of Vaughan for his 44 not out in Johannesburg. "What is man of the match?" asked Gough. "Five hundred quid," said somebody. "Exactly," said the Dazzler, back once more where he at least knows he belongs.