'Darren the Dazzler' ploughs through Pakistan

LONDON, MAY 20. With a sense of the theatrical which is a gift from the Gods to the highly talented, Darren Gough captured his 200th Test wicket at the stroke of lunch in the first Test at Lord's today and celebrated as only one with his natural exuberance can. He received a standing ovation from a large crowd both at the moment he had Rashid Latif caught down the legside and when he led England off the field.

Gough had a grin so wide that his lunch must have slipped easily down his throat and it was even wider when he came back for the last three balls of his 16th over, 40 minutes later. The fifth ball induced a hard shot from Waqar Younis which was caught, goalkeeper fashion, by Graham Thorpe at third slip and the next ball was simply too good for Shoaib Akhtar whose feeble forward shot was never going to stop a tennis ball much less Gough's 88mph rocket.

Now Gough, playing in his 50th Test, lies equal to another England great John Snow on 202 wickets and fifth after Ian Botham (41 Tests), Alec Bedser (44), Fred Trueman (47) and Snow (49) in the number of Tests needed to reach this target. He has been through a turmoil of injury, injustice and poor form since he was brought into the Test fold in 1994 by Ray Illingworth, in his spell as chairman of selectors. Richie Richardson, the West Indian captain who followed Sachin Tendulkar as Yorkshire overseas professional, drove him to bowl with more aggression and his wife Anne Marie took him to the gym and changed his favourite burger and chips to a more sensible diet.

He has always talked in extravagant terms about his career; only Dominic Cork in the present England team equals him in self- belief. This year he has a benefit which may break all Yorkshire records and miserable talk of an early retirement is replaced by a desire to pass Trueman's 307 Test wickets so that future generations remember him as the finest Yorkshire fast bowler.

Three wickets in an over - his direction was off beam to Salim Elahi when he was on a hat-trick at the start of the second innings after England enforced the follow-on - set off more celebrations from Gough, known as Darren the Dazzler to his tabloid friends. He was pleased about his first five-wicket haul at Lord's and let everyone know it. But Gough makes no enemies from his public demonstrations; he is so popular with crowds and fellow players that they are all pleased at his success. He was just as demonstrative when Andrew Caddick grabbed the wicket of Elahi in his first over of the Pakistan second innings, thanks to another lovely diving catch - one-handed this time - by Thorpe.

Earlier in the morning, England had been held up by the forceful strokes of Younis Khan who, oddly, never made an appearance in Pakistan this autumn. Once he had gone to Cork at 167 for seven, the end of the Pakistan innings was imminent and its total of 203, leaving it to make 189 if England is to bat again, was as many as it could have expected.

Caddick bowled beautifully in both innings; a lifting, pace- changing contrast to Gough's skid and a key man in their partnership lasting 19 Tests and bringing 145 wickets by the end of the Pakistan first innings.

He got a second wicket when Stewart - leading England in place of Nasser Hussain who shows his broken thumb to a specialist tomorrow - put Thorpe in a fifth slip position and Saeed Anwar guided the ball off the full face of the bat precisely so that Thorpe could demonstrate his catching form once again.

Abdur Razzaq and Inzamam-ul-Haq pushed Pakistan to 67 before Inzamam-ul-Haq, who is in ominously good form, was caught behind by Stewart off Cork and Gough repeated his interval trick by taking the wicket of Yousuf Youhana off the last ball before tea when Pakistan, four for 84, still needed 105 to make England bat again. Defeat was looming for the side which won the toss and put England in.