May 16, 2003

Gooch returns to the fray

Robin Abrahams

An appreciative Old Trafford crowd were treated to a cameo blast from the past today when Essex coach Graham Gooch was forced back into the fray as a substitute fielder.

Gooch, within two months of his 50th birthday and seven years after his retirement from first-class cricket, was required when Essex's Scott Brant joined his team-mate Will Jefferson in the treatment room.

England hopeful Jefferson did not take the field at all on day two of the Frizzell County Championship Division One match against Lancashire, having twisted a knee fielding yesterday.

Brant went off in mid-afternoon with sore shins, leaving Gooch as the only fit man left at his team's disposal.

Gooch, who first played at Old Trafford back in June 1974 when he made 94 for Essex, was cheered on and off the field by the Manchester public.

The former England captain let no one down with an admirably athletic seven-over stint, posted at short midwicket to spin bowlers James Middlebrook and Paul Grayson.