Gooch gets call-up to help England tame tearaways

As England's most formidable batsman of recent vintage flies to South Africa today there is a sense that he is embarking on his mission in the nick of time. Graham Gooch, it was unexpectedly announced yesterday, will join the England squad to help them prepare for the First Test, which begins in three weeks.

Perhaps it was always intended that Gooch's expertise be used in the final planning for a daunting series. Andy Flower, the England coach, who worked as a player with Gooch at Essex, is meticulous and thoughtful in his approach and will seek help from all reasonable quarters.

It is a trait he shares with his counterpart in the opposition camp, Mickey Arthur. But if the call had not already been made, there was every reason for dialling Gooch's numbers in the aftermath of South Africa's overwhelming 112-run victory in the third one-day international in Cape Town on Friday night. Different format of the game it may have been, but it was incontrovertible that South Africa had intensified matters.

They were not quite unrecognisable from the side who lost the previous one-dayer by seven wickets, but by including the young tearaway fast bowlers Morne Morkel and Wayne Parnell, there was an obvious declaration of things to come. Morkel had not been included in the original squad, Parnell had just recovered from an ankle injury, but both provided a cutting edge. From now on, England will have their hands full.

Morkel is prone to waywardness, but his pace and steep bounce make him decidedly awkward. The select-ors dropped him last summer, but have made it clear they want him back, and the one-day recall smoothes his passage. Parnell's trajectory as a left-arm fast bowler places different demands on the batsman's skills, and if the ball swings he will be more troublesome still. He made his first-class debut at 17 and played a handful of games last summer for Kent, home from home for South African players looking for a gig. His stamina may well be under scrutiny in a five-day Test but he has taken 22 wickets in a mere eight ODIs.

As the pair took eight of England's wickets between them on Friday night, it was easy to conclude that both of them will play a part in the Test series. That is where Gooch comes in. Flower knows only too well that he will have tips galore about how to play extremes of pace and swing, and respect for his method of imparting those skills has grown in the past years.

For now, England have a one-day series to complete. After the battering on Friday night, which owed something but not much to the loss of the toss at Newlands, they must try to regroup quickly in the fourth match at Port Elizabeth today. They could do with more assistance from their strike bowler, Jimmy Anderson, whose troublesome right knee continues to be a concern despite medical reports.

Although St George's Park is another of South Africa's favourite grounds, where they have won two- thirds of their one-day matches, the surface can be contrary, as Paul Collingwood, England's most in-form batsman, observed yesterday. Sometimes it turns, sometimes it is low and slow; it is rarely quick.

It would be misguided to suggest that Collingwood has been a revelation. He has been around too long for that. But his thrilling work since the summer has made a nonsense of his status as a journeyman international cricketer.

Collingwood, fully embracing the new attacking policy, is now England's six-hitter in chief. Thirteen sixes have come in his past six innings and since the beginning of 2008, albeit in eight more innings, 32 to 24, he has hit twice as many sixes as Kevin Pietersen.

No doubt Pietersen will be seeking to redress that balance and, after a slow start getting surer, he is due a score. But with Eoin Morgan and Luke Wright both willing to strike out for home runs (respectively they acquire 58.8 per cent and 48.9 per cent of their runs in boundaries), England have entered their brave new world with some aplomb. Test cricket may be a different bag, but Gooch has something to work with.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific