When Nasser met Dazzler: Darren Gough talks cricket

When Nasser met Dazzler… on Zoom! Legendary England paceman Darren Gough talks cricket, coaching and Andy Caddick to Sportsmail’s Hussain

  • Nasser Hussain and Darren Gough come together for Sportsmail – via Zoom
  • Gough was one of the first names on the former England captain’s team-sheet
  • The two friends talk old times, this England team and what Dazzler did next

They were the England captain and the fast bowler he always regarded as one of the first names on his team-sheet. 

Now old colleagues and friends, Nasser Hussain and Darren Gough come together for Sportsmail via Zoom to talk about old times, this England team and what the Dazzler did next…

Sportsmail columnist Nasser Hussain caught up with England legend Darren Gough on Zoom

Nasser Hussain: First things first, what’s lockdown like for Darren Gough? You weren’t the sort of person to hang around in the hotel when we were on tour.

Darren Gough: It’s started to get to me the last few days. I was all right at first because it was like a holiday, wasn’t it? I’m still working and I’ve got plenty to occupy my mind — for instance I’ve been working on the launch of a new wine label supported by Freixenet Copestick Ltd that will benefit Care for Wild in South Africa — and I’ve got back into cycling.

I live in the countryside so I’m very lucky. It lets me get out into the fresh air.

Nasser: How are you finding doing your talkSPORT show from home? Do you have as much trouble setting it up as I did this Zoom call?

Goughie: I’ve got an ISDN line for emergencies — and this is certainly one — so it’s easy to speak to the world from this room. What is harder is the preparation. We usually have so much to talk about but we’re having to use our imagination now. We’re doing all sorts.

We’ve featured Eddie the Eagle, and Daley Thompson winning decathlon gold in 1980 and ’84. I’ve been surprised how much I’ve enjoyed talking about the great things that happened in the past.

Gough was among the first names on Hussain’s team-sheet during their playing days

Gough and Hussain, pictured ahead of a training session in South Africa back in 1999

Nasser: You feature a lot of football on your show and I know you have loved your football over the years. Is it Tottenham and Barnsley? Or just Tottenham?

Goughie: It’s Barnsley mate! But I’ve always had an affection for Tottenham and that came from them winning the FA Cup in 1981 when I was a kid. When you’re 11 or 12 certain things capture your imagination.

My kids became Chelsea fans at that age which breaks my heart as a Barnsley boy. I used to put a Toby Tyke doll in their beds but they weren’t interested. It was all about the glory! That’s just the way it goes.

Nasser: You’re very good on that show but when you talk about football you get comments on Twitter — we all get them — asking: ‘What does a cricketer know about football?’ Does that bother you?

Goughie: It’s a weird one Nass and it was tough to start with but I think I’ve earned the respect of the listeners now. I’ve been nominated for a lot of radio awards talking mainly about football but it is called talkSPORT.

I’ve been doing it 11 years and I like to think I talk a lot of sense. I say some stupid things but I say some great things too! It’s a station for the fans and I’m a fan who loves football and I’ve got an opinion on it.

Hussain gets a dunking from Gough during a swimming pool session in November 1999

Nasser: You’ve won awards for the cricket coverage too. Test Match Special are not an easy act to follow but talkSPORT have done very well with their coverage of overseas tours.

Goughie: We like to be passionate and we like to have opinions. I’m a passionate England fan but I have to be able to criticise if needed.

I won’t do it for the sake of it and if England do well I’ll praise them but if they don’t I’ll say so. England wouldn’t have got me involved with the next generation of cricketers if they didn’t think I was passionate about it.

Nasser: Let’s talk about what you’ve been doing with the England team. You were in New Zealand before Christmas as a bowling consultant. It must help your radio show because you’re in tune with the modern game, but is it difficult because you don’t want to give too much away? How do you strike that balance?

Goughie: I’m honest. I won’t go into the tactical side of it but England are happy for me to talk about the lads and the hard work they are doing.

I’ve not been able to commit to some of the trips I was asked to go on but it was great to be in New Zealand and to be in the dressing room with this team. 

They’re a great bunch of lads, Nass, who work their socks off. It’s totally different from when we played, whether it be training or their discipline. I never saw the boys in the evening. They might pop down to the bar area but not for a drink.

Gough has been working with former team-mate Graham Thorpe with the England set up

Gough (right) and Stuart Broad in the changing room after England’s Test in Johannesburg

Nasser: Just like our day then…

Goughie: They might have a soft drink or a game of cards but a lot of them will be in their rooms doing online gaming. I spoke to Stuart Broad about this. He didn’t get to know Jofra Archer that well when he first came into the team because he was quite quiet.

But during the New Zealand trip they got to know each other well through gaming. You’ve got one in room 504, or whatever it is, and the other in 318 and they’re building a relationship. 

Broady says it’s been brilliant for their connection and it’s good that he has been prepared to do something different at this stage of his career to get to know a team-mate.

Nasser: A couple of players have said nice things about your coaching in recent days. Saqib Mahmood says he couldn’t think of anyone better to help with his skiddy bowling, and Chris Woakes has said you have made him a better bowler overseas. I don’t think your confidence needs a boost but it must be nice to hear that.

Gough was out in South Africa earlier this year covering the Test series for talkSPORT

Goughie: I’m a sensitive soul really Nass! When I went in there I didn’t want to be my normal Rhino self. But I’m confident enough to say they loved having me around and after one day I felt as if I belonged. 

The players made me feel part of the team straight away. It was great to see Graham Thorpe after all these years. I never thought he would become a coach. Paul Collingwood a hundred per cent but not Thorpey.

I knew which bowlers I could improve immediately. I saw something with Woakes. I think he’s absolute class but he can get himself in the habit of just putting the ball there and expecting the pitch to do the work. 

You can’t do that when you go abroad. I told him to hit the pitch as hard as he could a bit fuller. Go for gold with the new ball. Risk it for a biscuit.

Since then he’s bowled quicker and with more aggression. I thought he was quality in Johannesburg in the last Test against South Africa and if he bowls like that away from home he’ll take wickets. 

I always wanted wickets. If you ever asked me to bowl maidens I’d say “all right” but I would always be after wickets.

Gough speaks to the England ODI side as he presents Saqib Mahmood with his first cap

Gough surveys the pitch in Colombo in 2018 alongside Sportsmail columnist David Lloyd

Nasser: I think you would have punched me if I’d asked you to bowl maidens Darren! You’re one of England’s greatest bowlers despite having such bad luck with injury. When did you know it was right to call it a day?

Goughie: I knew I was done once I’d had my fifth operation in two years. I was never going to be the Darren Gough who ran in and could bowl 90mph on his day. I still had the skill to bowl a yorker but it was six or seven miles per hour slower.

I played at Lord’s on a flat one against South Africa in 2003 and I just knew. I remember saying to you as we came off: “That’s it mate, I’m done”. I don’t know if you thought I was serious or not but I knew I couldn’t be Darren Gough any more for England. Not what I wanted to be.

Nasser: So would you tell two of your fellow greats in Broady and Jimmy Anderson to go on their own terms at the top or should they carry on as long as possible?

Goughie: They should carry on while they’re still taking wickets. I think this lay-off will be very difficult for Jimmy because he’s getting older. But he knows he has the skill to bowl at 83mph and still be really competitive in world cricket. I think he’s desperate to get 600 Test wickets.

I actually thought Broad was done about a year ago but he’s reinvented himself and has shown real passion in still wanting to play. He still deserves his place.

Gough flexes his muscles in front of the England supporters at Edgbaston back in July 2003

Gough knew that his Test playing days were coming to an end in the summer of 2003

Nasser: Think of our era. You, Angus Fraser, Devon Malcolm, Dominic Cork, Dean Headley, Andrew Caddick. That’s a great seam attack. Do you ever wonder what you all might have achieved had you had central contracts?

Goughie: I only had one year with them and I got injured. They couldn’t wait to get me off the pay-roll! Listen, there’s no bitterness there whatsoever. It’s a shame contracts didn’t come earlier because we had some quality players in the 90s and I get frustrated when people say English cricket was no good then.

We were competitive and there was real quality in our side but the problem was there was no longevity. There was no consistency in selection. We changed every single game. One bad one and you were out.

You played a Test against Marshall, Bishop and Ambrose and then straight away had to bowl 40 overs in a county match up against Tom Noddy. Central contracts are a lifesaver for these guys. I can see Archer playing two or three Tests a summer and then Mark Wood the other two.

Nasser: Having said that, when you were a lad in Barnsley did you think you’d play 58 Tests?

Goughie: No because I was a footballer. I wanted to play for Barnsley alongside Ronnie Glavin and Ian Banks. I was at Rotherham when Norman Hunter was the manager but it didn’t work out.

I was a late developer at cricket until at about 16 I thought, “Hang on, I’m not bad at this”. I never went to a professional cricket game until I played in one. It wasn’t in my family’s DNA. It was all about football.

Nasser: You became one of the best England have ever had. Did you even surprise yourself?

Goughie: I know I was really good around 1998, 1999 and 2000. It’s not being big-headed, but I’d put myself up against anyone in the world during those three years. Right up until I was injured. I must have missed 50 Tests through injury. In our team you did well if you played 50 or 60 Tests as a bowler but now they can get way past 100.

Nasser: We’ve talked about a lot of players but not Andrew Caddick. How would you describe your relationship with him?

Gough shares a joke with Andy Caddick after victory over Pakistan at Lord’s in 2001

Gough looks fired up as England take on Australia in the first T20 international in 2005

Goughie: Competitive at times but we were closer than a lot of people thought. I get disappointed when people say we didn’t want each other to do well. That’s absolute rubbish. 

We used to spend a lot of time talking about our partnership and we’d go to the cinema together the day before every home Test. Yes I used to take the mickey out of him, of course, but we had a good relationship. He was an unbelievable performer and we complemented each other well.

Nasser: How important was it to eventually take that five-for at Lord’s (against Pakistan in 2001)? I remember you looking up at that honours board over the years and it never seemed complete without Darren Gough.

Goughie: It was massive. I think I’ve got more four-wicket hauls there than anyone else. I’m up there for my one-day five-for against Australia now too and that was a shock when I saw that because I didn’t think they put them up. 

I was desperate to get up there for a Test. I took other five-fors but Lord’s was the one. I should have been up there twice more!

Nasser: Any regrets?

Goughie: I probably lived the life a bit too much in the early days but that’s what cricketers did. I came from a football background and cricket was an eye-opener. 

One year in my early days at Yorkshire Paul Jarvis was trying for 1,000 pints before July. He was actually ticking every one off. You can get caught up in that world. But once I got into the zone I wouldn’t change it one bit.

Gough speaks with Broad during a tour match against New Zealand XI in November 2019

Nasser: I know you’re brilliant on talkSPORT but one last question on coaching. The one batsman of those I played with I’d want to work with England is Graham Thorpe and the one bowler would be Darren Gough. What are the chances of you becoming England’s full-time bowling coach?

Goughie: It’s always in my mind because I’m desperate for England to do well and I believe my personality around the dressing room would be really good.

But I love my job, just like you do. I love what I do and being at home around my kids. I spent so much time away when they were younger. 

I don’t want to spend 50 weeks a year away from home. I’d like to go in for short spells to help as much as I can and possibly work for a franchise but at this time I really do enjoy what I do.

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