Sri Lanka v England, 1st Test, Kandy, 5th day December 5, 2007

Hoggard 'looking doubtful' for second Test

Matthew Hoggard batted on the fifth day, and was last man out when he was bowled by Lasith Malinga, but was clearly in pain © Getty Images

England's captain, Michael Vaughan, has conceded that Matthew Hoggard's prospects of playing in Sunday's second Test at Colombo are slim, after he was forced to leave the field on the fourth day at Kandy with a recurrence of the back problems that ruled him out of England's Test series against India in July.

Though Hoggard batted during the closing stages of England's 88-run defeat in the first Test, he was clearly in pain, and had to receive treatment from the physio shortly before he was bowled by Lasith Malinga to wrap up the match. Up until then, he had been England's outstanding bowler with six wickets in the match, including 4 for 29 in the first innings.

"He's looking doubtful at this stage," said Vaughan after the match. "As we saw when he was batting he's not moving that well, so we're going to have to monitor him over the next few days. He's got to be a doubt for the next Test.

"It'll be a huge blow for the team if he's ruled out," Vaughan added, "because of what he offers with the new ball as well as the old ball, and his experience. But if he is ruled out it gives an opportunity for someone else to come [in]." England were scheduled to travel down to Colombo immediately after the game, and Vaughan said that he would continue to be assessed in the days leading up to the second Test.

According to England's coach, Peter Moores, Hoggard's back problems had been getting progressively worse throughout the match. "It's a facet joint that's stiff , and it's an injury he's had before," said Moores. "It's currently being manipulated by the physio, and we'll see if it needs anything more aggressive after that.

"It's got progressively worse as the game has gone on," said Moores. "He [was suffering] a little bit late on in the first innings, it came back in the second innings, and then he bowled with the second new ball and that stiffened it up. We'll just have to see how he comes up."

Until the Sydney Test last winter, Hoggard had been a stalwart of England's attack for 40 consecutive matches. Since then, however, he has been increasingly injury-prone. He withdrew midway through the Lord's Test in May with a strained abductor muscle, and then suffered a series of back spasms in the latter half of the season.

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo