Cricket: Gough on track for Test return

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The Independent Online
England pace bowler Darren Gough says he is on target to regain fitness in time for England's third Test in the West Indies next month.

Gough, who had to pull out of the Caribbean tour because of a persistent hamstring injury, is hoping to join up with England as soon as he can.

"The specialists have isolated the problem area and have adjusted my treatment slightly, and the hope is that I will complete my recovery in about six weeks," Gough said. "That would allow me to join up with the squad more or less as planned."

The timetable he is setting will leave Gough with a race to be match fit for the third Test in Guyana on 27 February. He had hoped to make the second Test a fortnight earlier.

Mike Atherton, the England captain, has already said he hopes Gough can join the tour some time next month, but the Yorkshireman is anxious not to put pressure on himself with strict deadlines.

"I don't want to set myself specific targets because if I don't make them it will be a let-down," he said.

Courtney Walsh, sacked earlier this month as West Indies captain, has confirmed he will play under his successor, Brian Lara, if he is selected to play for his team in the forthcoming series against England.

"I am looking forward to the first Test, but I also hope the controversy which has developed over the captaincy will end now," Walsh said. "My aim is to play Test cricket whether I'm captain or not."

The controversy arose after the West Indies Cricket Board appointed Lara captain for the series against England, which starts on 29 January in Jamaica. In response, Walsh told reporters he was not sure he could play under Lara.

Shane Warne gave an impressive display as Australia's stand-in captain yesterday in leading an inexperienced one-day team to a 131-run victory over New Zealand in Sydney.

Warne went into the match without the only four current players who started this season with more than 100 international limited-overs appearances for Australia. The usual one-day captain, Steve Waugh, was out with a hip injury, while his brother, Mark, was suffering with flu. The selectors also chose to omit the Test captain, Mark Taylor, and wicketkeeper Ian Healy.

Warne, who recently took 300 Test wickets, was typically relaxed about his captaincy success. "I whipped the boys up into a frenzy," he said.