Darren Gough believes England must “find a way” to thrive on unresponsive surfaces, pointing out Tim Southee and Trent Boult have done so in New Zealand despite their status as swing bowlers.
Movement in the air or off the pitch has been peculiarly absent for England in Whangarei, where their bowlers have found little encouragement in the two warm-up matches ahead of next week’s first Test against the Black Caps.
Glenn Phillips amassed 116 while there were fifties for Hamish Rutherford and Tom Blundell as a New Zealand A side containing nine players with international experience posted 302 for six declared. England closed on 26 for one.
Day 1 done ✅
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) November 15, 2019
It is anticipated conditions at the Bay Oval in Mount Maunganui will be similarly batsman-friendly to what they have faced this week but Gough is adamant England cannot simply wring their hands at the unresponsive decks.
Gough, whose brief consultancy role with England’s pacemen is set to end after this week, said: “It’s finding a way to suit your type of bowling in all conditions. It’s not easy but you find a way to attack, even on flat pitches.
“I’ve not seen a swinging ball since I’ve been here. Two weeks and very little swing. But the ball has to swing here because Boult and Southee are swing bowlers and they have good records.
“If it’s going to swing, the bowlers have to be prepared. And if it’s not and it’s going to be flat, they have to be prepared because the pitches tend to get lower and slower as the game goes on. You have to find a way.”
Jofra Archer bowled a hostile seven-over spell that yielded only one for 22 after lunch on Friday and Gough hopes England can find someone to complement the Barbadian-born quick.
However, he does not feel that player has to match the lightning quick speed of Archer, saying Boult and Southee prosper in New Zealand despite bowling considerably slower.
Gough said: “If you need control, you go to (Stuart) Broad. If you need a wicket, you go to Archer.
“But you need one more in there somehow. You need to get another wicket-taker in that team, someone who is going to attack the stumps.
“The way I look at it, when people say the pitches are flat, I say ‘OK, you bowl at 95mph and Southee and Boult bowl at 85. They somehow find a way on flat pitches to take wickets in New Zealand. So what do they think?'”
However, Gough suspects it is no accident England find themselves here, adding: “The way they have placed England for these two Tests I think is quite clever.”
Gough’s brief time overseeing the seamers has led him to conclude Ben Stokes is a bowler with “a golden arm” while he said of Archer: “He’s a natural talent. With him, it’s about challenging him and giving him a target.”
The Yorkshireman, who revealed he has worked more with Chris Woakes and the uncapped Saqib Mahmood in the last couple of weeks, says he could be persuaded to link up with England in the future.
However, his commitments as a broadcaster with radio station talkSPORT may mean any involvement is temporary.
Gough added: “Of course I’d be tempted. You’re back with England, this is the ultimate. You’re working with some of the best players in the country. I’ve really enjoyed it but I also enjoy my job. Best of both worlds – fantastic.
“Two weeks is a good amount of time. It’s a huge honour to be asked, especially when you still work in the media. I could be commenting on them in four weeks.
“But they’re a great bunch of lads. To see them up close and see how the game has changed a little bit…I’m still the same Darren Gough and that’s why they brought me back.
“If I can help England in any way – for a day, a week, two weeks – I will.”