MICHAEL GOUGH enjoyed the World Cup in more ways than one.

Some fine displays in the middle were recognised by the powers that be. He knew long before the tournament that promotion was in the offing to the ICC Elite Panel, which was confirmed last week. He is now officially one of the top 13 umpires in the world.

Comfortingly, he watched the final with friends and family at Park Drive, Hartlepool, the place where he grew up learning the game.

England won, Gough had excelled in the tournament when in the middle and now a new chapter begins in his rise from an opener with Durham who fell out of love with playing the game to one of the very best in the business.

“The World Cup was fantastic for everyone – and what a finish! The tournament went well for me personally and being in my own country I ended up watching it at my home club, surrounded by my mates,’’ he smiled.

“For it to finish there, after being involved and England to win… it was really special for me.’’

And while a nation queried what was to come as England and New Zealand finished in a tie, who better in the confines of the Park Drive clubhouse who to ask what was happening?

“I’ve never been asked so many questions – everyone was asking me if it went to a tie what happened: super over,’’ he reflected.

“I know what was coming and then people asked what if the super over was a tie – and I had to check that one myself!

“It was great, a few beers, good atmosphere and people who don’t have a big interest in the game were in there enjoying it and hopefully it will bring people together and encourage a generation.’’

Gough came through the fabled Durham Academy, which has produced a regular flow of England internationals over the years.

Ben Stokes, Liam Plunkett and Mark Wood were all part of the success and all were nurtured in Chester-le-Street, while Paul Collingwood was part of the coaching staff.

Gough, who captained England at Under-19 level, added: “We all know how strong Durham have been for England over the years and we are still producing these guys over a period of time on the world stage.

“It’s massive for the North-East to see them churning out runs and wickets for England.

“Geoff Cook deserves all the praise. I grew up with him, I owe him everything as a cricketer and what he has done for Durham – and in turn England – they should name the ground after him for what he’s done.

“The players produce it year in, year out for England and look at Stokesy, he’s a freak isn’t he. Put him in any situation and he will take it on.’’

Gough’s performances have not only been recognised by the ICC and the ECB, but pundits know just how good he is.

Last week, on the opening day of the first Test at Edgbaston as the umpire’s decisions were regularly questioned and subsequently overturned, Michael Vaughan declared Gough the best umpire in the world.

While he’s allowed to officiate at England games in the shorter formats of the game, ICC rules dictate he can’t be involved in their Test matches.

So there’s no chance of him replacing Joel Wilson at Lord’s next week. Gough’s next assignment is in Sri Lanka.

“It’s lovely to hear nice things like that and Vaughany has said a few good things and when it comes from someone of his standing then it’s really nice to hear,’’ mused Gough. “It’s very complimentary of him, but I can only carry on doing what I do.

“I go to Sri Lanka next week and there’s two Tests. One in Galle, an umpires’ graveyard they say! And it’s always tough on the sub-continent with spin. It will be a challenge and if there’s a few errors, all you can do is your best.

“It’s nice to be recognised, especially after having a decent World Cup. I’ve known for a while and had to keep quiet about it, but it meant I had the added pressure of a World Cup thrown in there.

“If I do well then it’s public knowledge, if I have a bad one and then it becomes public knowledge….’’

He added: “I suppose the hard work starts now, a bigger stage and everyone is looking at you. I’ve had a couple of good years at international level and all you can do is take one ball at a time. Get on a roll, with errors and it can snowball. It happens.

“Some decisions can be a real 50-50 and once everyone has looked, slowed it down then everyone has an opinion on it. You can only give what you see.’’