County cricket September 22, 2008

Gough bows out of first-class cricket

Cricinfo staff
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Darren Gough says farewell to spectators at the end of his final first-class match in front of his home supporters © Getty Images
 
Darren Gough's first-class career is officially over after he was left out of Yorkshire's squad for their must-win encounter against Sussex at Hove on Thursday.

Gough, who turned 38 last Thursday, made his Yorkshire debut as an 18-year-old in 1989, and took 453 of his 855 first-class wickets for the county. His final first-class outing came against Somerset at Scarborough last week, when he picked up figures of 2 for 52.

Gough said of that final performance: "I wanted to go out in style today - and that proved to me I am ready to retire, I am absolutely shattered now."

"I bowled as quick as I have for a long, long time in my first spell. I had the opposition saying that is the quickest they have faced all season and when they say stuff like that, I'd like to finish on that note."

With Yorkshire precariously placed at second-from-bottom in the first division, their best means of avoiding relegation lies in beating their fellow strugglers, Sussex, and that necessity has over-ridden sentiment for Gough.

"I wasn't disappointed because I picked the team!'' Gough told BBC Radio Five Live. "Some people said I should go for the romantic ending but it's not about me, it's about Yorkshire staying up.

Gough, who won the BBC's Strictly Come Dancing in 2005, has a career in the media awaiting him. "I would like to keep in touch with Yorkshire but I don't think I'll be a coach there, it's not something I want to do," he said. "But an ambassador's role would be ideal.''

Gough's final wicket in first-class cricket was an old adversary, Australia's former opening batsman, Justin Langer. "When I look back I'm glad my last wicket was Langer," he said. "I've had some great battles against him and it's nice to know my last wicket in Yorkshire was someone as good as him."

Gough retired from Test cricket in 2003 after sustaining a career-threatening knee injury, but managed to battle back to fitness and remained a regular fixture in England's one-day sides for another three years.

After making his international debut against New Zealand in 1994, Gough played in 58 Tests and 159 ODIs, claiming 229 and 234 wickets respectively - the latter a England record that has yet to be surpassed. Arguably the highlight of his career was a Test hat-trick against Australia at Sydney in 1998-99, although his best figures of 6 for 42 came against South Africa in front of his home crowd at Headingley, in a performance that sealed a memorable 2-1 series win.

For their final match of the season, Yorkshire will be captained by the former England batsman, Anthony McGrath, while the 19-year-old Jonathan Bairstow - the son of the former Yorkshire and England wicketkeeper, David - is in line for his first-class debut.