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April 11, 2008
Geoff Miller, England's chairman of selectors, has insisted Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard - who were both dropped after the first Test against New Zealand in March - are both part of England's immediate plans for the forthcoming season.
Harmison and Hoggard were replaced by James Anderson and Stuart Broad to give England an injection of youth after losing the first Test by 189 runs. The plan worked; England bounced back to beat New Zealand in Wellington before wrapping up the series in Napier. However, Miller - in a wide-ranging interview with MCC - maintains that despite the pair's lack of form, they are both not forgotten.
We were consulted [by Peter Moores and Michael Vaughan] - though we [the selectors] were in a different part of the world at that stage, but they had this feeling in the changing room of what was necessary," Miller said. "They then got in touch with us. Unless there's something dramatically wrong in what they're feeling, you would let the captain and coach have their way. The end product is they got it right."
"They've got to perform," he said, "and they're still part of the picture. From Steve's point of view, he would be very disappointed with how he performed. I will have a chat with him early on in the season to see how he feels, but he knows that if he's performing as well as he knows he can, there aren't too many batsmen in the world who would fancy facing him. So, we'd make sure - but he's got to be bowling like that to reinvent himself internationally."
"Matthew just looked like he was a little bit flat. We had to win two games and we needed something special. It's not the end of the road for him - he knows that and we know that and I know he'll fight back to get his place."
Inevitably, Andrew Flintoff's name popped up. The England allrounder hasn't played since the Sydney Test in January 2007, and underwent a third operation on his ankle last September, but Miller remained cautiously optimistic about Flintoff's chances of making his comeback in the first Test against New Zealand next month.
"We've given him complete freedom to do his own rehab. He's had his own medical people with him and when he thinks he's ready - fully ready - to actually do a full job with England, he'll come back," he said. "Obviously we'll monitor him, I'll go and watch him play for Lancashire at The Oval next week - I presume he'll be playing - and I'll have a chat with him, his medical staff and if he's somewhere near ready he comes into the equation."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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