Giles and Hoggard say it was under control
Ashley Giles and Matthew Hoggard insisted they'd rather have been out in the middle than in the pavilion after seeing England home to a nailbiting three-wicket fourth Test win against Australia at Trent Bridge.
England's victory, with a day to spare, left them 2-1 up in the five-match Ashes contest ahead of next month's final Test at The Oval and in sight of their first series win against Australia in 18 years.
But Sunday's triumph was far from assured as Shane Warne, supported by the express pace of Brett Lee, sparked a collapse that reduced England to 116 for 7, still 13 short of their apparently insubstantial target of 129, when Hoggard joined Giles at the crease.
However, Hoggard belied his status as a blocking tailender by driving a Lee full-toss through extra-cover for four in textbook fashion before Giles finished the job. Giles told reporters at the team hotel that they are the most important runs they will ever score. "I don't think I'll score more important runs in my career and I don't think Hoggy will hit a better extra cover drive in his career."
Hoggard added: "It's been said I'm the world's most boring batsman so it's nice to be able to score some runs. Normally if I score eight runs it takes me a session-and-a-half. It was very nervous in the dressing room. I saw Ash before he went in and he was bricking it, is a nice way of putting it, and I wasn't far behind him but as soon as you stepped over the line it was almost surreal.
"Everything seemed to slow down, everything seemed calm and I just thought as soon as we got there our destiny was in our own hands and it was nice to be in the middle not watching on the balcony." Giles admitted: "All sorts of thoughts go through your head, 'this can't be happening to us, we don't deserve this' but Hoggy held his nerve and when you are out there you do feel you are in control."
During his innings Hoggard had to survive a huge lbw appeal from Lee, although replays later showed the ball would have missed leg stump. Hoggard joked that he knew he was safe. "They were very desperate to get me out but I knew from past experience I never get in line anyway so it was never hitting the stumps."
The player of this Ashes series will be the first recipient of the Compton-Miller medal, named in honour of the England batsman Denis Compton and the Australian allrounder Keith Miller. The duo were fierce competitors on the field but firm friends off it and Hoggard said a similar spirit had prevailed during the current series.
"We had a drink again with the Australians. They started it off at Edgbaston. When we won they came in and then we went down at Manchester - after Australia hung on by one wicket for a draw - to see them. It's been great to chat with some of the best players in the world and to pick their brains. It's very hard-fought on the pitch but it's getting to be quite friendly off the pitch."
And Hoggard stressed the sporting atmosphere had remained intact despite the row over substitute fielders. Ricky Ponting was fined 75 percent of his match fee following his outburst after being run out on Saturday by replacement Gary Pratt, on the field for the injured Simon Jones. "Simon was not able to walk, he couldn't field and we were not going to replace him with somebody with clown feet."