Chris Irvine - Strictly speaking with Yorkshire cricketer Darren Gough

PUBLISHED: 23:50 18 January 2010 | UPDATED: 15:06 20 February 2013

Chris Irvine

Chris Irvine

Chris Irvine looks forward to a dazzling Yorkshire cricket season with Darren 'Dazzler' Gough

I'm fitter than I've been for ages,' Darren Gough, the Yorkshire captain, proclaimed on the eve of the new cricket season. His relentless routine has included a month on the road with Strictly Come Dancing Live, the touring version of the BBC programme that his natural rhythm saw him foxtrot to national acclaim in 2005.

April is likely to be the beginning of the end of his remarkable 19-year cricket career. Gough is 'almost certain' that the forthcoming season will be his last.

Star quality was imprinted on the young Dazzler when he made his Yorkshire debut against Middlesex at Lord's in 1989. England captain Mike Gatting was among the victims of the young fast bowler's five wickets.

Arguably England's finest pace bowler since Bob Willis, his records speak volumes: England's all-time highest wicket taker in one-day internationals with 234 and ninth most successful wicket taker for England in Tests with 229 wickets in 58 matches. Who in Yorkshire cricketing circles can forget his four wickets in five balls against Kent at Headingley in 1995?

There was no let up on his Yorkshire return last season after three years at Essex. He led by example as the club's leading fast bowler with 37 county championship wickets and 23 in one-day matches.

The same will to succeed has driven him on the dancefloor. Strictly judge Arlene Phillips has no doubt about Gough's life after cricket. 'He'll kill me for saying this, but he could take the lead in a musical. He has a fantastic stage presence and he's a big man, but when he's dancing he glides

Monster of a blog

I am a blogger. I blog every day. Well, almost every day. I like blogging. I'm always on the blog, so to speak. In this age of citizen journalism, advocacy journalism, new journalism, whatever label you wish to attach to the head-spinning developments in a fast fragmenting media world, we old fogey remnants of the typewriter and hot metal age are struggling but just about managing to keep pace.

The rugby league blog on Times Online was my idea, so I've only myself to blame for the monster I've created. It devours my copy, enslaves me to my computer and requires a dialogue with thousands of readers, whose comments - the good, bad and occasionally ugly - I upload (see I use words like upload now) and spur me to carry on blogging.

It's not a vicious but a virtual circle. I thought my addiction was red wine. But no, it's blogging (sometimes with an accompanying glass of the grape). Rugby league followers, bless them, are never short of an opinion or three. I will be blogging my way through the Rugby League World Cup in Australia at the end of November (a blogathon) and there's a blog book due out at the end of the year. Will I be completely blogged out by then?

Enter the blogosphere at to find out.

Chris Irvine is Rugby League Correspondent for the Times

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