The 'dazzler' calls it a day

Written by: Sajith Balakrishnan
Published: Wednesday, August 6, 2003, 18:06 [IST]
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Bangalore: England speedster Darren Gough's decision to call it quits from Test cricket might have surprised only a few - considering the fact that he looked a pale shadow of himself in the Test matches against South Africa. I suppose, being at the wrong end of 30 and that too with the farewell list on the rise, he had no other option. The 'dazzler' (as he is affectionately called) who had 229 Test wickets in 59 Tests would like to have bowed out with a splendid performance with the red cherry. Instead, he will be now remembered for his cameo 34, than for his solitary wicket in two Tests. It is said that fast bowlers hunt and 'haunt' in pairs. Along with Andy Caddick, he formed a lethal combination and gave a new dimension to the English attack that was struggling to find replacements for Willis, Botham, and Co. Gough and Caddick were instrumental in regaining the Wisden Trophy against the Caribbean's after a gap of 31 long years. Ever since his sensational debut against the Kiwis in Old Trafford, where he made a painstaking 65 and returned a four-wicket haul, 'Goughie' has been a lion hearted performer and always gave 100 per cent on the field. At one stage he earned plaudits even from Imran Khan for his handling of the old ball and reverse swing that he could extract from it. Aussies are unlikely to forget him; especially the SCG crowd. In his first trip 'down under' he entertained them with a breezy 51 and a five-wicket haul and the second time he toured he got his hat-trick. In fact, his batting stints 'down under' bolstered his average to around 34 and hopes of a future Botham gained ground. So too against the South Africans. He took a career-best (match-winning) six-wicket haul which decided the course of the series the last time the Proteas visited Old Blighty. When Devon Malcom spelt doom for them with that scintillating 9-wicket haul, at Oval in 1996, it was Gough who dealt the 'body blow', by removing the danger man Cullinan who stood between England and victory. He also played his part in the away series win in Sri Lanka and Pakistan with crucial strikes thereby earning the gratitude of the then skipper Nasser Hussain who had immense faith in him. At a time when players prefer to quit One-dayers to prolong their Test careers, Gough's desire to continue playing ODIs may sound a bit innocuous; that too with a history of knee injuries having troubled him over a period of time. However, one does hope that his smile will continue to allow him bowl that crucial 10 over spell.


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