| Alec Stewart, who has announced he will call it a day after the current series, at Edgbaston on Wednesday. (Reuters)
Birmingham: Darren Gough is certain to be in England’s XI for the first Test against South Africa beginning Thursday, Nasser Hussain said at Edgbaston.The captain rarely reveals his teams in advance but told a news conference on Wednesday: “Goughie has the heart and ticker of someone you want out there. As long as he doesn’t fall over before the start, he will be there.”
Gough, 32, who has taken 228 wickets in 56 Tests, is back in the Test squad after almost two years following a string of operations on his right knee.
Hussain accepted it was a gamble to play Gough, who impressed in the one-day tournament win over South Africa and Zimbabwe, over five days.
“I’m willing, and the selectors are willing, to take that risk,” he said. “I saw him in the winter and I knew how he was missing it.”
Hussain also suggested left-armer Ashley Giles would play. “Having looked at the wicket, it might be a little dry so I would be surprised if a spinner was not included.” This meant uncapped fast-medium bowler James Kirtley would miss out yet again.
South Africa’s Graeme Smith said he was sure Hussain must be worrying about his England future on the eve of the first Test.
Smith said it would be difficult for Hussain to return to lead the side after sitting out a one-day tournament and watching his teammate Michael Vaughan captain England to victory.
“Nasser wouldn’t be human if he wasn’t feeling under pressure from Michael,” Smith said.
“I’m sure their relationship is fine but there’s always outside pressure. If we can exploit that, possibly we’ll look at it.”
Hussain retired from one-dayers after England’s wretched World Cup campaign but said he was determined to continue as Test captain.
Vaughan then led a new-look England side to impressive wins over Pakistan and then Zimbabwe and South Africa in a tri-series. Smith added he did not know Hussain personally but was reading an article on his life and career, “just for interesting information, just to get to know type of person I’m up against”.