A passage in Graeme Swann's book - which bears a title so punsomely dreadful that it wouldn't make a caption in the back of Nuts magazine - has poked life into an old story.
He writes: There was a strange dynamic between Andy Caddick and Darren Gough. I found it really weird. They absolutely hated each other but pretended to get on in this pseudo friendship. Their jealousy towards each others success made me feel uneasy.
On hearing of it, Gough, already stoked up by an allegation elsewhere in the book that he'd sucker-punched Swann while he was standing at a urinal - you'll have gathered by now that The Breaks Are Off might not take its place next to Cardus on Cricket in the pantheon - used his radio show on Talksport to rip a few snorters into Swanny's rib-cage. Paraphrased, his response was something like: 'It's absolute rubbish. Me and Andy were competitive, but we were friends too. Before every game together we'd do something like go to the cinema or have a meal or play golf. We're playing golf in a couple of weeks actually. Caddy's one of the few players I've stayed in touch with. I've stayed at his house for a week. I texted him the other day. Why would I do that if it were a pseudo friendship?
'There was a bit of jealousy because I was the golden boy and I got all the contracts, and that might have been a bit because I were a proper Englishman and he were a Kiwi, and we were competitive. If you look at how close were were in the wickets we got, of course we were. But to say there were cliques in the team and we weren't friends is rubbish. That team under Nasser Hussain and Duncan Fletcher and Lord MacLaurin started the process of where we are today.
'You're always better friends with some people in the team than others, but that's not a clique. Vaughan and Collingwood and Giles were always together. Freddie and Steve Harmison were inseparable. At the end of my time, I was always with KP. In this team now, Swanny's always with Jimmy Anderson and Bressie, they spend all day on Twitter winding each other up. Is that a clique?'
It took him less time to say than it does to read, and he seemed far more exercised by it than he had been by the punch allegation, which had come the day before and over which he'd rung Swann direct. Perhaps it's because the story has been so persistent over the years, and it rankles.
In truth there was an almost symbiotic link between the two, in that they unconsciously echoed one another's performances. Gough played 58 Tests and took 229 wickets at 28.39 at a strike rate of 51.6, a best of 6/42 and 14 five wicket hauls. Caddick played 63, taking 234 wickets at 29.91 at a strike rate of 57.9, a best of 7/46 and 13 five-wicket bags. Gough had the edge as a limited overs bowler, Caddick took 1,180 first-class wickets to Goughie's 855.
They played 25 Tests together and were mostly formidable, except in the Ashes of 2001. England's comparative mediocrity during their era can be blamed on many things - three batsman who played more than 100 Tests and averaged less than 40, the failure to develop Hick and Ramprakash, a chaotic selection policy, the lack of central contracts, all of the usual - but not on players with records like Gough and Caddick, who, statistically at least, outbowled Flintoff and Harmison.
You can imagine both having their moments. You might think Gough had a heart like a dustbin lid and Caddick maybe less so, but then look at their numbers. That can't be true, although Gough's bravery in the face of his terminal knee injury pre-dated Flintoff's Leviathan efforts when faced with the same. Caddick by all accounts could be quirky. David Lloyd even called him nerdy, and maybe he was sensitive and inconsistent, but again, the stats say not that often. Anyway, which fast bowler is entirely sane?
Swann's recollection appears coloured by the myth, by the story. He has carefully constructed a personal mythology of his own, and his book will reinforce it. He's in a glass house throwing stones with this one.
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