The last time I saw Darren Gough in action was on the Strictly Come Dancing Christmas special last December. The ruddy-cheeked stalwart of the Yorkshire and England fast-bowling attack doesn’t look like a natural for the more skinny-limbed athleticism of ballroom dancing, but he won the show with alarming ease, twirling across the floor with a light-footed sureness as if gravity didn’t exist (rather like Usain Bolt at the Olympics, come to think of it, who runs as if the ground wasn’t there). The Dazzler still turns out for Yorkshire (he’s club captain, best recent figures 2-62 off eight overs) but more to the point, he also presides over one of the best sports programmes around, Darren Gough’s Cricket Show (Radio 5, Thursdays, 8-9.30 p.m.).
The show feels so fresh that it often sounds like Gough has just rushed from the pitch to the nearest studio, still in his whites. And this week he probably will be: he’s doing the show from the Scarborough cricket festival. The programme is a free-ranging mixture of cheery blokishness (to Graeme Hick: ‘Hi Hickie, it’s Goughie here.’ ‘Hi Goughie.’ ‘Hey, what about that pint you owe me?’), highly insightful chat about the big issues of the day — Vaughan’s resignation to Pietersen’s captaincy and whether it would affect his form, the impending ICC Champions’ Trophy debacle in Pakistan, the ups and downs of the England attack, and Lancashire’s unexpected release of Dominic Cork — all sprinkled with a high-octane set of guests and senior players who Gough can pull in with his huge reputation in the game. Recently there was the Independent’s Angus Fraser, who has played for England with Gough, Essex’s Alastair Cook (‘Hey Cookie, it’s Goughie’), Geraint Jones, and Australian fast-bowler Jason Gillespie (‘Hey Dizzy’, ‘Hey Goughie’), currently plying his trade in Glamorgan and the only tail-ender to score a double century in Test cricket which led to some excellent banter with Gough (highest Test score 65).