London: England insisted on Tuesday it was right to let fast bowler Darren Gough play in a county match where he suffered a recurrence of his knee injury, which has kept him out of this week's first Test against India.
Gough was playing for Yorkshire against archrivals Lancashire in what was his opening first class match in 11 months after two operations on his right knee. But following the match at Headingley, which was drawn on Monday, Gough complained of "pain and stiffness" and withdrew from the England squad. As he has an England central contract, the Test management could have ordered Yorkshire to leave him out. As it is England is now without four frontline players for this Thursday's opening Test of four at Lord's. Apart from Gough, his fellow pace bowlers Andrew Caddick (side strain) and Alex Tudor (shin splints) are both ruled out with opening batsman Marcus Trescothick (broken thumb) also sidelined. But England coach Duncan Fletcher said it was better for Gough to break down during a county match rather than in the middle of a Test. "We spoke to Darren after he played for Yorkshire in the Trophy game and he said he wanted to play in the four- day match," explained Fletcher. "It was important for him to prove he was fit enough to play in a five-day Test," the former Zimbabwe all-rounder added. "If he hadn't played he would have pitched up here and bowled a few overs and we'd have been happy for him to play in the Test and where would we have been then - that's why it was crucial for him to play." Meanwhile, Gough told Teletext that he knew he would not be ready to face India despite his selection. "I knew all along that I wasn't going to make the first Test on Thursday," said Gough. "It's just too soon as I continue the rehabilitation on my injured knee, but I'm aiming to be back before the end of the series. People may have written me off after I pulled out of the Test, but they have to understand there's no new shock setback. "England gave me the opportunity in the recent One-dayers and I'm pleased with the way it went, but to say I've suddenly been rocked by a new injury blow is way off the mark." He added, "Until I'm sure my knee can stand up to the rigours of a five-day Test match and my specialist gives me the all-clear I will continue building up my strength. "That's the key for me now. When I come back for England and for Yorkshire I want to be firing on all cylinders."
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