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Gough on course to play in third Test

By Richard Bright

15 January 1998

DARREN Gough, the injured England fast bowler, is on target to be fit for England's third Test in the West Indies next month.

Gough, who had to pull out of the Caribbean tour because of a persistent hamstring injury, is hoping to join the England party as soon as he can and has disclosed encouraging news of his recovery.

``The specialists have now isolated the problem area and have adjusted my treatment slightly, and the hope is that I'll complete my recovery in about six weeks,'' Gough said. ``That would allow me to join up with the rest of the England squad more or less as planned.''

The timetable he is setting will make it touch-and-go whether Gough can be match-fit in time to play in the third Test, which starts in Guyana on Feb 27.

England's captain, Mike Atherton, has already said that he hopes Gough can join the tour some time next month, but the Yorkshireman is anxious not to put pressure on himself with strict deadlines.

``I don't want to set myself specific targets because if I don't make them it will be a let-down,'' he said in his column for the Yorkshire Evening Post.

By the time Gough arrives, his fellow bowler Robert Croft is hoping to have re-established his place in the England attack thanks partly to improved batting.

Glamorgan's off-spinning all-rounder was given a tough time with the short-pitched delivery by Aust- ralia's fast bowlers last summer and knows that he can expect more of the same in the Caribbean.

Croft, however, is confident that he has ironed out the flaws in his batting, thanks to intensive sessions with former England captain Graham Gooch, with the ball being banged in at him from 15 yards off the fast indoor pitches three or four times a week.

Croft, whose Test average is a disappointing 10.61, said: ``Australia's Glenn McGrath worked me out, as he has done with a lot of other batsmen. It was the most mentally tough cricket I'd played. Yet I would go away and score 60s, 70s and 80s with Glamorgan, so I know I can play.

``Basically, I was jumping right across the crease, giving myself nowhere to go and the ball was following me. Now I take a little step across middle and leg so I can come forward to the fuller ball and move back to the shorter one.''

Croft, 27, was eventually dropped for the final Test of the Ashes series, and left to watch spin colleague Phil Tufnell take 11 wickets in the match as England pulled off a 19-run victory.

Source: The Electronic Telegraph
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Date-stamped : 25 Feb1998 - 19:03