Local employers line up to accommodate Gough

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The Independent Online

The fact that Darren Gough has lost a yard of pace and owns a dodgy right knee has failed to discourage several counties from attempting to sign the former England fast bowler. Essex, Gloucestershire, Middlesex and Warwickshire have all expressed an interest in the 33 year-old following his surprise decision to leave Yorkshire.

Nick Knight, the Warwickshire captain, confirmed the desire of his county to lure Gough to Edgbaston. "He fits the bill perfectly," Knight said. "Not only would he strengthen our attack, but he would be a great person for the younger bowlers to learn from. He is not the sort of person who goes through the motions. He takes huge pride in his performance and I don't think he knows how to give anything other than 100 per cent."

After losing the services of their Australian overseas player, Ashley Noffke, Middlesex are just as keen to secure the signature of the popular paceman. With a young and inexperienced attack, Gough would be the ideal replacement. Lord's has been a happy hunting ground for him and his presence would save the county the trouble and expense of finding two overseas players for 2004.

Gough is a close friend of the Essex captain, Ronnie Irani, and Paul Grayson was the best man at his wedding. "We are always looking for quality players," Graham Gooch, Essex's head coach, said. "Gough has been a great servant both to Yorkshire and England and we would be keen to discuss something with him."

The Gloucestershire player-coach, Mark Alleyne, has also stated an interest but the potential journey from where he and his family live in Milton Keynes to Bristol will not work in their favour. Gough's wish to move from Headingley is for personal reasons. Though divorced, the father of two still gets on well with his former wife and wants to spend more time with his children. "Realistically, it has to be within an hour's drive of my home," he said. "And it doesn't take much working out which of the counties are around that area. Every other player goes home after a day's play. Unfortunately for me my family live down south and on training days I can't just pop home for three hours and nip back for the game the next day.

"I want to fit into a side where I will be happy and where I can enjoy the last two or three years of my career. I still believe I have a lot to offer English cricket, wherever I am. I believe I am still good enough to be in the England one-day side."