Thursday, 6 November 2008

Hoggard targets Ashes Series Return

Matthew Hoggard believes that his wealth of international experience could give him a crucial edge in his bid to earn an England recall in time for next summer's Ashes. Hoggard still hopes and believes that he could make an international return despite having been omitted by England on a seamer friendly Trent bridge pitch last summer against South Africa. Last summers disappointment seemed to signify the end of Hoggard's England career due to the fact that the selectors required a like-for-like bowler to replace the injured Ryan Sidebottom and chose the unknown Darren Pattison ahead of Matthew Hoggard.

The Yorkshire seamer, who is now 31 years of age, last played in a test match against New Zealand back in March, in a match that England lost convincingly. Hoggard returned disappointing figures of one for 151 and admitted aftewards that he was a little undercooked for the match; something that no international player should ever be. As it happens both Harmison and Hoggard were undercooked and both were subsequently dropped after the Hamilton defeat. The dropping of Hoggard after the Hamilton test came as somewhat of a shock as England had relied heavily on Hoggard (both taking wickets and bowling high numbers of overs throughout the duration of a test). Harmison on the other hand had been carried for a number of years putting in performances well below that of the Harmison who was ranked number 1 in the world only a few years prior. Hoggard seemed to pay the price for Harmison's poor form. Once dropped the pair were replaced by the likes of Sidebottom, Anderson and Broad who have all performed admirably.

Hoggard acknowledges this by saying "There's a lot of good cricketers out there and everyone's vying for that England shirt, the thing that I've got above everyone else that wants to play for England is experience."

He added: "I've played 67 Test matches, got a few wickets and in big series like the Ashes I've got the experience to come in. I'm not making my debut, I know what it's all about."
If Hoggard starts the season by bowling well for Yorkshire and England have a difficult series in India then there is every chance that the selectors may start to look for possible replacements for the summers Ashes series.
"I know how the world turns in Test match cricket so it'll be easier for me to come in to a Test team rather than a new boy making his debut against such strong opponents."

The successful return of Steve Harmison to the international test arena also gives Hoggard hope. Harmison looked certain to have played his last test due to lack of form, not enjoying being away from his family and retiring from international one-day cricket.
"It shows that it's not a closed door," Hoggard said.

"'Harmy' bowled extremely well in county cricket. He was the leading wicket-taker when he got selected so it just shows me that I've got to go back and take a lot of wickets for Yorkshire, hopefully keep banging on the selectors' door, and give them enough of a headache for them to open the door and let me in."

There is always hope for an experienced tryer such as Hoggard, he will always give the team 100%, takes important wickets, he also knows what it is like to beat Australia in a high pressure high drama series.

Apart from Flintoff and Panasar (injury permitting), no bowlers place is cemented in the team. Anderson can be inconsistent, Broad may not take enough wickets yet (although his batting at number eight is an enormous bonus) and Sidebottom (who was England's best performer with the ball post Harmison and Hoggard) struggled with injury and looked to have gained a couple of pounds last summer.

Come the summer we may have a bowling attack consisting of Flintoff, Hoggard, Harmison, Jones and Panasar. Do the seamers look familier?