Pakistan in England, 2006 August 17, 2006

Hoggard going back to basics

Cricinfo staff



Matthew Hoggard: Would prefer to be the floor manager than in the board room © Getty Images
Matthew Hoggard has said that he will follow Michael Vaughan's advice not to try to be a strike bowler and instead just "concentrate on keeping control of the batsmen". Although he admits that the injury to his knee at Headingley might have hampered his bowling, the real reason, he reckons, for his below-par outing in the three Tests against Pakistan - seven wickets for 349 runs at 49.85 - might be "as much mental as physical".

"Without Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones and Ashley Giles, Stephen Harmison and I have been easily the most experienced bowlers in the side and I had been putting too much pressure on myself to be the leader of the attack," Hoggard wrote in his column in The Times. "That was instead of just doing my usual job of keeping control of the batsmen and letting the wickets come.

"Michael Vaughan put it best when he sent a text message to me the other day. As he often says when he is captaining me from mid-off, he told me to carry on sweeping the shop floor and not to worry about getting myself up to the boardroom. What he means is that I shouldn't worry too much about bowling wicket-taking balls, just to think about building the pressure on batsmen that will eventually bring wickets. I've had a stern word with myself and I think he's right. I've just got to concentrate on doing the job that I've done this past couple of years."

Hoggard also talked about the difference between bowling in a four-man attack rather than a five-man attack and how it has affected his bowling. "It gives us a lot less time to have a rest in between spells, something I noticed especially when I was carrying that knee niggle at Headingley."

Neither has bowling in tandem with Monty Panesar helped Hoggard. "I have hardly had time to get myself down to fine leg before he has finished his over. Before I know it, it's my turn again. Monty bowls his overs more quickly than anyone I've ever known."

Meanwhile, Alastair Cook, the England batsman, traces the reason for his team's Test-series triumph to an "excellent team meeting" at the start of the series. "We sat down and talked about what we thought had gone wrong," he wrote in his column in the Daily Telegraph. "We agreed that maybe we had become distracted by outside issues, such as the injuries to players who were no longer in the side, and that we had to be a lot more clinical. In the last two games we have achieved that, with much thanks to Monty Panesar, who came into the side at about the same time as me."

Cook revealed that he has been working with Merlyn, the specialised spin bowling machine, to improve his batting technique against wrist spin. "I know there has been some criticism of the way I have played the leg-spinners in this series, and that is fair enough - I don't pretend to be the complete player at 21."