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December 4, 2006
"From our point of view he's bowled some good lines, good lengths, and got bounce. After that result in Brisbane a lot of people asked: 'Will we get back into this series?', but this side's done that on numerous occasions," Fletcher said after the fourth day's play.
"We've got a lot of character, and we've come back and played really good cricket for four days with a youthful side. We've come good in session after session." And none came better in this match than Matthew Hoggard, whose figures of 7 for 109 were a testament to the disciplines he's learned in the four years since he last toured Australia.
"It was a pretty difficult wicket for the bowlers, so we have to complement Hoggard for sticking to his task," said Fletcher. "He bowled into the wind for a lot of those overs, which shows the character of the individual, and he stuck to the disciplines required. He's a cheery character out there, and he's prepared to get stuck in.
"He's a very useful member of our side," Fletcher continued, "and he's learned another variation from touring the subcontinent. The swing goes pretty quickly out there, so it's variation of pace and most importantly offcutters that can be confusing on a pitch like this that does deviate at times."
Fletcher believed that Hoggard's success justified the selection of James Anderson ahead of the extra spinner. "We thought a skiddy bowler would probably play quite a big role on this wicket," he said. "It happened here when we played South Australia in the warm-up game, James Anderson bowled very well, as did Hoggard. Not every bowler is going to go and get the wickets every time. It was Hoggard's turn this time, but if we played it again, it would probably be Jimmy's turn."
Although the second Test looks likely to peter out to a draw, Fletcher insisted there would be a chance of a surprise finish if the conditions turned out to be right. "It's a pretty difficult day," he said. "We'll look at the first hour or two tomorrow, then reassess and see where we are. We'll just get the feel of things and see what the wicket does."
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