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'Always my first-pick player'
Part eight: Alec Stewart picks the best bowlers he has faced. This time, his team-mate Darren Gough, who livened up every dressing room he stepped into (00:00)
Producer: Ranjit Shinde
December 11, 2012
'Always my first-pick player'December 11, 2012
I've picked Darren Gough. He's the only Englishman [on this list], but he epitomised, for me, what it is to play for England. He's a great fellow.
First of all, brilliant in the dressing room. He's sort of the centre of attention. He loved everything that international cricket brought to him, both on and off the field. Put a ball in his hand, he'll run through a brick wall for you.
When I was captain, he was my first-pick player, because whether he got 6 for 20 or 0 for 150 - not that that ever happened, because he'll tell you that! - he would be exactly the same. Still charging in for you, he would bowl and bowl and bowl, and we literally had to rip the ball out of his hand to give him a rest. He was high class.
You know I spoke about Malcolm Marshall not being the tallest, and gaining pace off the pitch, had good control of his swing. Darren Gough was very, very similar. He wouldn't be 6ft. He might claim to be, but he's not. He's probably about 5ft 10in, but he was quick. He loved bowling. He loved the introduction of the speed gun, where they used to put it up on the big screen, because when bowling, if he thought it was a quick ball, straight away his head would flip around to the left to look at where it came up on the screen. When we were playing in Australia once, where they used kilometres per hour (we use miles per hour in England), he got clocked at 145. And he bowled it, followed through and celebrated like he had bowled the quickest ball the game has ever seen - 145mph! It wasn't until we pointed out that it was "kilometres per hour" that he looked a bit deflated, but that's Goughie for you. He was a showman, but don't just treat him as a showman, because he played it tough, he played it hard, but most importantly he was a quality quick bowler.
The hat-trick that he took in Sydney in the 1998-99 series was brilliant for him, and brilliant for England too. He had the ability to run up and bowl quick. He also - it comes across as a joke - had a very good cricket brain, so he could work batsmen out pretty quickly. He had the variety and he had the tools to exploit any weaknesses in the opposition batsmen. And he wanted to do well, both for himself and for the team. So when he finally knocked over the third one of his hat-trick, the celebrations and the smile and the elation that he showed and his team-mates showed was absolutely spot on, because he was a great cricketer and also a great team man.
I've played against Darren Gough a little bit, Yorkshire v Surrey, not a lot, because we were always playing together for England. But it was always in the nets, on a training ground, practice sessions. Again he wanted to do well. Whoever was batting at the other end, whether it was one of the lower-order batsmen or whether it was myself, top-order batsmen, he wanted to do well. So he used to turn it into a proper contest. You're almost replicating match conditions on the training ground, which, to me, is how you should practise.
Anyway, so it was full-on. If you suddenly were getting the better of him in the nets, then he would go up a gear or two, just to let you know that he could whiz the ball faster or whatever. But I just love everything about Darren Gough. It was great to have him in my team. I'll say it again: he was my first-pick player, and regardless of the situation, he always gave 100%, and that to me is very, very important.
You could easily wind Goughie up, because he was a competitor. I enjoyed practising hard and so did he. I enjoyed tough practice, because if you practise tough, you generally play easier. So when Goughie was about, it was a challenge. He wanted to get you out, I wanted to score runs off him. I might clip one into the side net, through midwicket and say that's four. He'd say he's got a straighter midwicket, then bowl a wide one and I'd cut it, say there's another four. He'd go: no, gully or cover stopped it. That's all part of being a team-mate, but at the same time being competitive.
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