Been there, done it, got the T-shirt. Darren Gough tells Sky Sports how England can win their two-match Test series in Sri Lanka
Last Updated: March 5, 2012 5:31pm
England legend Darren Gough was a member of the England team who won the 2001 Test series in Sri Lanka by a 2-1 scoreline. The former fast bowler is therefore perfectly placed to know what England will need to do to succeed on the sub-continent when their latest series begins at the end of March. Andrew Strauss and his No.1 world-ranked squad will be licking their wounds after being whitewashed in their Test series against Pakistan. And here, after kicking off a 2012-mile cycling challenge in aid of Sport Relief at sportsdirect.com's flagship Lillywhite's store at Piccadilly Circus, Gough gives Sky Sports a formula for victory in Sri Lanka.
The pitches are a lot slower than they are in England. You must not waste the new ball, must remain in control and must make the opposition play as much as possible. In the second and third spells, I used to bowl as quickly as I could and hit the pitch back of a length. The pitches can be quite dry, so I used to bowl my off-cutter quite a lot. I would also use Yorkers in my second and third spells. I used to bowl at the stumps. In the United Arab Emirates, Sri Lanka and India - apart from the spinners of Graeme Swann and Monty Panesar - I would turn to Stuart Broad. He is a natural wicket-taker.
It was never easy for England, because we used to have to face Muttiah Muralitharan. The good thing for the English batsmen this year is that they know they have no demons in the spin department. There is no-one who is going to scare England. Sri Lanka do not have Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal. England's batsmen have struggled in the past against off-spinners who can make the ball go the other way. England are okay when facing orthodox spin and I think they will be quite comfortable against Sri Lanka.
Andrew Strauss' captaincy
All a captain does is pick the team. He is the one who is responsible for placing the field. He is responsible for deciding who will bowl. You are only a good captain if all your players perform. It is quite simple. It is the same as being a football manager. If the team does badly, you get sacked. You will get different groups of players on different tours who want to do different things in their spare time. The captain is the one who has to rally the troops.
Threats to England
I cannot see any threat coming from Sri Lanka's bowling. Sri Lanka will rely heavily on spin. Ajantha Mendis burst onto the scene, but he has struggled since and has not been in the one-day side. They also have Rangana Herath. Sri Lanka's batting is their strength. Sri Lanka have some fantastic players, who, on their day, play spin very well. Kumar Sangakkara has been one of the best players around for a long time. Mahela Jayawardene is another class act and then Sri Lanka also have the excitement of Tillakaratne Dilshan
Life in Sri Lanka
Homesickness and the boredom of hotel rooms never really had an impact on me. Sri Lanka is one of the tours I enjoyed more than any other. The Pakistan and Sri Lanka tour was fantastic for my team. Your fitness needs to be elite to tour Sri Lanka at that time of year. It is incredibly hot and bowling long spells is going to be hard. It will be interesting, because England have been away in Dubai and have then come home before a few weeks off. They will not play as many warm-up games. It is a hard tour, but it is one of the most enjoyable.
I think England will win. I do not see Sri Lanka bowling England out twice more than once in the series. England also have a point to prove. Andrew Strauss needs runs and so do Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell.
Darren Gough is wearing the Official Sport Relief T-shirt to celebrate the launch of Sportsdirect.com's flagship Lillywhites, Piccadilly Circus store's 2012 mile cycle challenge. Buy and personalise your t-shirt exclusively at your local sportsdirect.com store or online at www.sportsdirect.com