Gough is a right arm fast medium bowler and right-handed batsman. 1.80 m (5' 11") and broad in beam, he achieves his pace from a good approach to the wicket and a leaping sideways-on action, achieving what is often described as "skiddy" fast bowling. Capable of swinging the ball late, a large number of his wickets were gained through lbw or bowled, often with the inswinging yorker delivery.
Gough retired at the end of the 2008 cricket season with Justin Langer as his final first-class wicket. Justin commented in his BBC column that "Darren Gough will retire as one of the most respected and admired cricketers of our generation." also noting that Gough had commented to Langer after his final match "I am happy to finish with an Aussie in my pocket.". Gough retired on a high being regarded as a model professional in the game and a Yorkshire legend.
He retired from Test cricket in 2003 after a knee injury threatened to end his career, having taken 229 wickets with a bowling average of 28.39. He has continued playing one-day international cricket, and became the first Englishman to take 200 wickets in one-day cricket in September 2004. In January 2005, he played for the World XI in the World Cricket Tsunami Appeal one-day international versus the Asian XI.
Gough asked not to be considered for selection for England's tour of Pakistan in October–December 2005 so that he could spend more time with his family. Selectors were content with his decision until it was discovered that he had signed up to take part in the BBC television show Strictly Come Dancing.
He was subsequently omitted from the ODI party to tour India in February and March 2006, prompting renewed speculation that his career was at an end. However, he was named as a member of the ODI squad to play Pakistan in August 2006, playing two ODIs and one Twenty20 International, before a shin injury forced him to withdraw from the team. Cricket writer Tim de Lisle claimed in a column for Cricinfo that after this, "[Gough's] international career [was] all but over".
He played county cricket for Yorkshire for 15 years before moving to Essex in 2004 due mainly to family reasons. He returned to Yorkshire for the 2007 season as their captain stating "They know I'll run through brick walls for Yorkshire. I've come home". He joined Matthew Hoggard in seemingly formidable Yorkshire attack.
His reign as captain of Yorkshire got off to a flier. His opening five games saw three convincing Championship wins (versus Surrey, Durham and Worcestershire) and two one-day victories (versus Notts and Scotland).
Gough suffered a broken hand in June 2007 whilst achieving his best Yorkshire figures in 11 years. He took 6-47 before taking a blow from Kent's Ryan McLaren, attempting to stop a straight drive off his own bowling. Despite suffering the injury, Gough bowled on briefly, taking the wicket of culprit McLaren.