Darren Gough has hailed “unbelievable” Katherine Brunt following her weekend retirement from Test Match Cricket with England.
Brunt has previously spoken of how fellow Barnsley native Gough was her cricketing idol growing up, herself earning nicknames such as ‘Blond Goughie’ and ‘Baby Rhino’ in ode to the former England’s men fast bowler.
But it is now Gough who is in awe of Brunt's achievements.
Both quicks sit in the top 10 England leading wicket-takers across all formats, men and women combined.
Gough (466) is fourth on the list headed by Jimmy Anderson (938), while women’s leader Brunt (316) is 10th behind the likes of Stuart Broad, Sir Ian Botham and Andrew Flintoff.
“For what Katherine’s done, she’s a great of Yorkshire and England Cricket,” said Gough. “There’s no doubt about that.
“To do what she’s done over many years, and to still be performing, she’s unbelievable.
“She’s been at the forefront of women’s cricket as a performer and an ambassador for both England and Yorkshire.
“Everybody always mentions the captains, Claire Connor, Charlotte Edwards and Heather Knight, and Katherine is right amongst that group as someone who has put the women’s game on the map.
“The way the women’s game has developed on the field and grown off it in the last 10 years, she’s been a massive part of it. But it’s not just women’s cricket she’s been a great ambassador for, it’s cricket in general.”
Northern Diamonds’ star Brunt, 36, retires after 51 wickets in 14 Test Matches, the first of which came against New Zealand at Scarborough in August 2004.
Her last Test was January’s thrilling Ashes draw against Australia in Canberra when she claimed eight wickets in the match - the second best haul of her career behind the nine she took against the same opponents at Worcester in 2005.
“That last Test performance was excellent,” said Gough. “It showed she has still got plenty left to give for England, which she will do in the one-day formats.”
Yorkshire’s interim managing director of cricket continued: “There are a lot of similarities between the two of us, not just because we’re from Barnsley and bowl quick.
“We’ve both struggled with injuries and have had to figure out a way of being successful without being able to perform to our optimum.
“I had a really horrific knee injury at the end, but I was still able to play in the one-day side. And Katherine will follow a similar path.
“She intimidates the opposition, which is one of her big strengths. But to have the skill to bowl out-swing like she does is the reason she’s lasted so long.
“She’s not as quick as she used to be, but the skill is still there.”
Gough saw a significant amount of women’s cricket whilst working as a pundit for Sky Sports during last summer’s Hundred and was impressed by the young talent who will look to emulate Brunt in the coming years.
“You look at the talent that England have picked in their new Test squad (to face South Africa at Taunton, starting on Monday), and there is some amazing talent,” he said.
“Issy Wong is part of that group, and I’ve seen her play on numerous occasions.
“She’s got talent and can bowl quickly, and I’m sure if you asked her who her heroes were, I reckon without a shadow of a doubt she’d say Katherine was one.
“Most of these new era of women’s cricketers will want to have the same career Katherine Brunt’s had.”
The Diamonds are hopeful of having Brunt available for the opening game of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy against Thunder at Sale on July 3 as she prepares for likely one-day international duty against South Africa eight days later.
“She will provide the Diamonds’ girls with a huge lift,” added Gough.
“It’s like when Joe Root comes back and plays for Yorkshire. He is such as inspiration to those around him, and Katherine is on that same level. People look up to her.”