As the 2007 county season approaches, we will be compiling a list of six men to watch; not necessarily the finest players, but those with particularly significant and interesting seasons ahead.
Darren Gough (Yorkshire)
Many people expected Darren Gough to retire when, for all his bravado, he was – probably correctly – omitted from England’s World Cup squad. He stalled on a contract offer from Essex before – incredibly – being named new Yorkshire skipper.
With Jacques Rudoph’s signing confirmed and Anthony McGrath opting to stay, Yorkshire, after a highly tumultuous winter, were suddenly all smiles. The failings – and desperation - of appointing a 36-year-old with a suspect knee were badly remarked upon. In reality, Gough will do very well to play in 10 of Yorkshire Championship matches, so either McGrath (who originally rejected the job) or Younis Khan will have to fill-in regularly.
What Gough does have to offer, though, is an infectious love of cricket – particularly Yorkshire cricket – which will be very welcome after a turbulent few seasons. If he can inject a genuine sense of enjoyment and camaraderie, a very talented side should avoid the profound relegation concerns of last season.
As a captain, Gough will surely be instinctive and attacking, for that is how he has always played the game. He has a cannier cricket brain than he lets on, and has vast experience of the county game. But for him to be a success it is essential that his bowling leads by example; if not, his waning on-field powers could undermine his captaincy.
2007 Yorkshire Preview