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Hoggard ready to make an impression

Matthew Hoggard will use this week's Pro Arch Tournament in Dubai as his launchpad to win back a place in the England Test team.

Hoggard, 32, was dropped by England following a disappointing defeat against New Zealand in Hamilton 12 months ago, and has barely been mentioned in dispatches ever since - despite England's run of three consecutive series defeats, and even though Hoggard's tally of 248 Test wickets places him sixth on the all-time list of England bowlers.

Though the focus ahead of the 12-day event inevitably surrounded Hoggard's county team-mate and former England captain, Michael Vaughan, as well as the deposed England coach Peter Moores, over here in his new coaching capacity with Lancashire, Hoggard was quick to point out that he has not written off his hopes of an Ashes comeback this summer.

"It's going to be a big year for me and I can't wait to get out there and start taking wickets, said Hoggard at the pre-tournament press conference. "For me that starts in the coming nine days of cricket over here.

"I've trained well this winter and I'm told honestly that it's not a shut shop as far as England are concerned. I've got the experience, so it's down to me to show what I can do by performing well for Yorkshire. That way I'll keep knocking at the selectors' door."

"I'm really looking forward to getting out there and playing some competitive cricket because no amount of practice indoors can emulate playing in outdoor conditions. I'm looking forward to coming in off my full run-up and giving it a real go.

"It's been a long slog in the close season if I'm honest and I've seen enough of that green rubber matting inside Yorkshire's indoor school to last me a lifetime. I've had the 'honour' of bowling at Vaughanie in the nets almost every day this winter. He's looking in good form and I'm looking forward to watching someone else have a bowl at him out here."

Yorkshire, who won the tournament in 2008, will be one of six county sides at the event, alongside Lancashire, Surrey, Sussex, Essex and Middlesex. The host country, UAE, and a representative XI selected from staff of competition sponsors, Emirates, will make up the eight teams.

"We've brought 25 players over here so we're taking it seriously," said Hoggard, "and we're hopeful we can defend our title. "

The tournament starts on Tuesday and concludes with the final on Wednesday, March 25. The day/night games all start at 2.30pm local time and matches will be hosted at the Zayed Cricket Stadium in Abu Dhabi, as well as the Sharjah Cricket Association Stadium.