London: England fast bowler Darren Gough has been ruled out of the first Test against India, starting on Thursday, because of his long-term knee problems. Gough is the fourth player to be sidelined for the match at Lord's with Andrew Caddick (side strain), Marcus Trescothick (broken thumb) and Alex Tudor (shin splints) the others.
The English selectors had been hopeful Gough would come through unscathed from his first championship appearance of the season for Yorkshire. The right knee problems, which have sidelined him for most of the season, however flared up again with Gough reporting he suffered pain and stiffness during the current Roses clash with Lancashire at Headingley. Gough will make a return visit to a specialist in Sheffield on Tuesday but he has already been ruled out of this week's Test.
"This latest setback is very disappointing news for Darren and for the team - everyone knows what an important member of the side he is and he will be sorely missed at Lord's," chairman of selectors David Graveney admitted. "At this stage, we can't look too far ahead as to what the prognosis might be for the rest of the series and we'll simply have to wait and see what advice the specialist gives Darren and take it from there." Gough's latest setback, though, has to be interpreted with a certain amount of pessimism after he exceeded expectations to recover and play a part in the recent triangular series against India and Sri Lanka.
His performances during that tournament persuaded the selectors to include him in their squad for this week's first Test, but his inclusion was dependent on Gough coming through his maiden first class match of the summer unscathed. But at least there has been some good news for England after batsman John Crawley withdrew from the final day of Hampshire's match with India at the Rose Bowl after reports he had contracted a virus.
Crawley, tipped strongly to replace Trescothick in England's line-up, failed to appear at the Rose bowl on Monday, but Tim Tremlett, Hampshire's director of cricket, revealed, "We kept John out of the match more as a precaution than anything else. I think he may have picked up a bit of food poisoning, but he's not a doubt for the Test match."