The injury crisis facing the England team moved from bad to atrocious yesterday when Darren Gough, the country's premier fast bowler, informed the selectors he would be unfit to play in Thursday's first Test against India at Lord's.
Following the withdrawals of Marcus Trescothick, Andrew Caddick and Alex Tudor last week, this was a blow England could have done without, as it further depletes their already strained resources.
Gough, who by successfully coming through the recent one-day triangular series, appeared to be winning his battle with his troublesome right knee, left the field on Sunday evening while playing for Yorkshire against Lancashire. This was initially reported as a bad back, but the smoke-screen failed to disappear overnight and yesterday morning the injury was confirmed to be to his knee.
"It felt great on Saturday night, but by Sunday I knew it wasn't right and it got worse," Gough said. "I knew then I was out of the Test."
The desperation of the selectors to get Gough playing again, and the short-term views they seem to be taking in selection, were highlighted by the fast bowler. "My specialist advised me to take two weeks rest after the NatWest series," Gough said, "but England were keen for me to play at Lord's, so I had no option but to give it a go. I will now have to go through a fortnight of knee strengthening exercises. It wasn't unexpected. My career is not over."
As for a replacement, David Graveney, the chairman of selectors said: "No decision has yet been made. The selectors will discuss the situation later today."
The player likely to gain from this unfortunate news appears to be the Glamorgan fast bowler Simon Jones who seems certain to make his Test debut.
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