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December 9, 2010
Darren Gough believes there is no way back for Australia in the Ashes and can't see them winning a Test regardless of who makes up their bowling attack. The situation has become so desperate for the hosts that there are growing calls for Shane Warne to make a comeback but, while Gough thinks the legspinner would seriously consider it, he says Cricket Australia can't be seen to be making such a backward step.
As England completed their crushing innings-and-71-run victory in Adelaide, a campaign was launched to encourage Warne - who last played Tests four years ago - out of retirement to help salvage the series. Bookmakers have cut their odds on such a move, and a website has been launched to raise money, while Warne himself called the talk "flattering".
"It's not going happen. If someone rang Shane and said 'we really need you' I think he'd probably say yes, but Cricket Australia just aren't going to do that," Gough, who struck up a close friendship with Warne during their playing days, told ESPNcricinfo. "They would never ask him because it would be going back on their own statement to back youth. It just won't happen.
"I can't see how they are going to win a game," Gough added. "Their best chance is at Perth where their record is very good, but England have got players who all play well off the back foot so they won't be worried about extra bounce - they'll actually enjoy it. I just can't see that they have the bowlers, whoever they pick, to bowl England out twice."
Gough is bemused by the decision to dump Mitchell Johnson for the second Test despite his wicketless display at Brisbane and thinks the selectors will have to immediately backtrack on that call for Perth. Johnson is currently working with Troy Cooley at the WACA, rather than playing for Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield, and could be one of three players recalled alongside Ben Hilfenhaus and Nathan Hauritz.
"The reason they are struggling is because they can't take 20 wickets," Gough, speaking at the Red Tractor beef and lamb launch 'Give the Bird a Break', said. "They left out their best strike bowler in Mitchell Johnson which was a total surprise to me. He's the one guy who can bowl a team out and Ricky Ponting knows that and that's why he has backed him in the media. It will be interesting to see which way they go. They'll have to bring Johnson back to partner Ryan Harris so they have two strike bowlers."
England will also need to make a change to their attack for Perth after Stuart Broad was ruled out for the rest of the tour with a stomach injury. The three reserve quicks - Chris Tremlett, Tim Bresnan and Ajmal Shahzad - will play against Victoria in a three-day match starting on Friday and despite his strong Yorkshire connection, Gough would go with Tremlett for the Test match.
"If it had been any other pitch over there I'd have gone for Tim Bresnan but I just think we need that bit of extra firepower at Perth where there's a touch more bounce," he said. "You look at history and the guys that have done well there are the tall bowlers - Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Glenn McGrath - the guys who can hit back-of-a-length to make the most of the extra bounce and carry. That's the only reason I'd favour Tremlett. Bresnan is a fine bowler and in any other conditions I think he'd be the man.
"I think Tremlett has developed a lot over the last few years and his move to Surrey has clearly helped him. The key for England is to continue to be positive and I think Tremlett is the man who can help them do that in Perth," Gough added. "He would send out a positive message that England aren't going to sit back on their 1-0 lead. However, if they come across some flatter pitches later in the series I'd play Bresnan because he bowls good reverse swing and accurately. For this Test, though, they need to replace Broad's wicket-taking ability."
Gough has huge sympathy for Broad having twice experienced the major disappointment of leaving an Ashes tour. In 1994-95 Gough had produced a fine all-round performance in Sydney with 51 and 6 for 49 but then suffered a stress fracture of his foot, and eight years later returned home without playing a game. "He'll be distraught," Gough said. "An Ashes tour is the one you want to play on. I came home from my first Ashes tour and my last - without bowling a ball in 2002 - so I know exactly how he'll be feeling right now."
Darren Gough is launching the 'Give the Bird a Break' virtual Christmas cooking school for men together with Red Tractor beef and lamb. For his recipe videos and top tips visit www.simplybeefandlamb.co.uk/birdabreak
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