An old head and Broad shoulders try to lift England

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The Independent Online

Their stature highlighted the diversity of bowlers and the eyes gave away what a career of toil can do to you. The old, short, broad one was Gough and the young, tall, skinny one Broad.

Darren Gough and Stuart Broad arrived at Sophia Gardens yesterday with a vastly different perspective on the NatWest series against Pakistan, which starts today with a day-night encounter in Cardiff.

Gough, at 35, knows that the five one-day matches offer him his last chance to impress, while Broad is at the start of what should be a long and successful England career. There may not be room for both of them but each has the same aspiration; to be on the flight to the Caribbean at the end of February to play in the 2007 World Cup.

Andrew Flintoff, whose rehabilitation from ankle surgery is coming along well, will occupy one of the positions, not only in next year's World Cup but in October's Champions Trophy, too. England need to select their 14-man squad for the Champions Trophy by 7 September and it is understood that Flintoff will captain the team. The all-rounder has already come through a couple of gentle batting sessions in the nets and he will start to increase his bowling workload during the tournament.

Gough is desperate that his third World Cup will bring his career to a fairytale end. His and England's campaigns in Asia in 1996, and then in England four years later, ended in failure, but, unfortunately for Gough, there are few signs that 2007 will provide supporters with the success they crave. Broad, however, at 20, can look forward to three or more World Cups.

Gough is at the distressing stage of his career where he is playing against the sons of players he lined up against when he was a lad, and the Broad family is an example. Gough played against Stuart's father Chris, the former England opener, in the early nineties and suggested yesterday that he had got him out. Research shows this is not actually the case, but Gough has never been one to play down his achievements.

"I've got out a few father-and-son combinations, the Wessels - Riki and Kepler - the Butchers - Alan and Mark - so it is becoming quite common," said Gough, when asked whether he found the predicament strange. "It does feel a little bit weird but I am just pleased to be playing. A lot of people said that I would never play for England again but I've worked hard this year - I never give in."

Gough also had some words of encouragement for Broad, who took 2 for 35 on his England debut at Bristol. He even let him choose the end he wanted, a luxury normally given to the team's most experienced bowler. "It's good to be back and it's good to see youngsters coming in like Stuart. I asked him what end he'd like because I'm a short arse and he is 6ft 7in, and he gets bounce.

"My role has changed in the last couple of years. I watched him bowl at the Twenty20 finals at Trent Bridge and again on Monday, and he is the best young bowler I have seen. It was a simple decision that he should bowl with the wind."

Gough and Broad are expected to play this afternoon but England will contemplate making at least one change to the side beaten by Pakistan at Bristol.

Michael Yardy had a decent debut but his left-arm spin is unlikely to cause any problems at Cardiff on a hard, well-grassed pitch.

The selectors may well replace Yardy with Rikki Clarke, the only player in England remotely capable of filling the void left by Flintoff, but the inconsistent nature of his bowling could lead to Jon Lewis making a rare appearance.

England also confirmed their intention to call up a replacement bowler on stand-by for the injured Steve Harmison.

Pakistan are due to name an unchanged team. If the tourists play to their potential over the next 12 days, England will struggle to live with them and England's run of seven consecutive limited-over defeats could extend to 12.

Billy Doctrove, Darrell Hair's partner at the Oval, will be on duty and it will be interesting to see how the Pakistan team respond.

Possible teams


A J Strauss (c)

M E Trescothick

I R Bell

K P Pietersen

P D Collingwood

J W M Dalrymple

C M W Read

S J Mahmood

S C J Broad

J Lewis

D Gough


Inzamam-ul-Haq (c)

Shoaib Malik

Mohammad Hafeez

Younis Khan

Mohammad Yousuf

Shahid Afridi

Abdul Razzaq

Kamran Akmal

Rana Naved-ul-Hasan

Shoaib Akhtar

Mohammad Asif