Injury left Gough close to quitting

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The Independent Online

Darren Gough, the Yorkshire and England fast bowler, considered retiring during the 18 months he was out of the game through injury.

"I seriously thought about just packing it in and going into other avenues when I came back from Australia," Gough said yesterday. "I did a lot of work with TV and I enjoyed it. But you can't take away that feeling when you've got the ball in your hand, the first ball of a Test match, and that's what I want. I've got the rest of my career to think about other things. I just want to play Test and one-day cricket.

"I've had three operations and seen specialist after specialist. I went to see a specialist in Australia who told me to find another job.

"The first thing I did, being a northern lad and being from Barnsley, was to try to prove him wrong, and I've done that. I just hope something else [another injury] doesn't happen. When you've not played for so long at a high level, you're always striving a little bit and you do get little niggles everywhere else."

Gough, who has surprised many people by regaining his fitness and returning to the brink of Test cricket, could well have been in the England squad for the first Test against Zimbabwe, which starts at Lord's on Thursday, had he not picked up a hamstring strain.

He has not given up hope of again leading his country's attack when England head for their newest Test venue, Durham's Riverside Ground, on 5 June. That would cap a remarkable turn-around for a man who not long ago was told that his damaged knee would no longer stand up to the punishment of international cricket.

The absence of Gough and Andy Caddick from this week's Test denies Hussain his first-choice opening bowlers, and though Matthew Hoggard, James Anderson, James Kirtley and Steve Harmison lack experience, Gough is relishing the prospect of fighting for his place.

"Having competition is the best thing for English cricket," he said. "I hope those four bowlers come in and do magnificently well. I really mean that because for me to get back and Andy Caddick to get back, we want competition."