Darren Gough's referral to the England Academy in Adelaide in a further desperate bid to help him over his serious knee problem places an even bigger question mark over his future as a Test bowler.

The Yorkshire and England strike bowler's worrying absence from at least the first two Ashes Tests increases the pressure on him to prove his fitness at the highest level.

If he has not made it back in time for the third Test in Perth starting on November 29 then England will seriously be considering throwing in the towel with Gough and sending him back home.

And that could result in him either retiring from the first class game or - odd as it may seem - give him the incentive to push for the Yorkshire captaincy.

It is over 14 months since Gough last played Test cricket for England and at the age of 32 it is improbable that he will make a comeback if he does not figure in Australia this winter, despite captain Nasser Hussain's comments that he is anxious to safeguard Gough's long term future.

If Gough is able to have a complete rest for the next few months, however, he may then be strong enough to play regularly for Yorkshire - and the club are not due to choose next season's captain until March.

Before going to Australia, Gough told Yorkshire that he wanted to play out the remainder of his career with his native county and it was agreed to see how he went on this winter before discussing terms of a new contract.

Gough has made no secret of his wish to captain Yorkshire and the way would be open for him to throw his hat into the ring if free of England duties - provided, of course, he could satisfy Yorkshire regarding his fitness.

Having been England's star bowler for so long, and the seventh most successful in the country's history with 228 Test victims to his name, it is unlikely that Gough could whip up much enthusiasm for returning solely to the Yorkshire ranks.

But he would undoubtedly relish the challenge of captaining Yorkshire and trying to win back much of the respect they earned after winning the Championship in 2001 - and then lost through being relegated last season.

It is most unlikely that this year's captain, Darren Lehmann, will be back at Headingley next summer, but Gough would not find himself without serious challengers to take over the captaincy from the Australian.

Richard Blakey did an excellent job in deputising for Lehmann during the latter part of the season. Matthew Elliott, who captains Victoria, must obviously be in the frame, and Bradford's Anthony McGrath is also in with a shout.