Matthew Hoggard, the fast bowler discarded by the England selectors during the tour of New Zealand eight months ago, has set himself a target of getting back in the Test side by July's home Ashes series. But Hoggard, 31, admitted the odds were stacked against him.
"The selectors have almost said to me it would be a backward step picking me," he said. "Obviously England have moved past me at the moment and have got some good youngsters in the team. I'm at the back of the queue at the moment."
Hoggard, who was on a flying visit to Asia at the weekend to play for an All-Stars team in the Hong Kong Cricket Sixes, said he was interested in playing in next year's Indian Premier League (IPL). But he added that his priority was to start the next English county season in style ahead of the Ashes.
"There's a massive summer coming up. There's nothing more than I want to do is put the three lions on my shirt if it's playing against Australia, or playing against Zimbabwe or Bangladesh," he said. "It only takes an injury to someone or a lack of form to somebody else to open up a chance. If you're the guy who's knocking loudest on the door, then hopefully the door will be answered and you'll be asked to come in."
Hoggard, sixth on the all-time England bowling list with 248 wickets at 30.50 in 67 Test matches, argued against the perception he had become too one-dimensional for the top level as a prolific outswing bowler. "People have been saying that ever since I've been in the England Test team," he said. "I think I've evolved.
"I think I'm more canny than just running up and bowling away-swing. I've proved that by taking wickets on the subcontinent and at some of the harshest places to go."
In 2005, Hoggard played an important role as England won the Ashes for the first time in more than 18 years. After a quiet start, he took nine wickets in the fourth and fifth Tests and shared in a memorable eighth-wicket partnership with Ashley Giles as England scraped home in the fourth match at Trent Bridge to take a 2-1 series lead.
He hopes that his contribution last time out will be remembered when the selectors choose the best combination to win the Ashes back in 2009. England's bowlers will again be looking to make the most of home conditions to expose weaknesses in the Australian batting line-up.
"The good thing about our swing bowlers in 2005 was that we were all different," he said. "I was a more conventional swing bowler, Freddie was a hit the deck reverser and Simon Jones was a skiddy reverser. It tested out the Australians' technique because we had so many different kinds of bowlers."
As he prepared for his first winter at home in almost a decade, Hoggard said he would enjoy the time in Yorkshire with his wife Sarah and baby son Ernie. However, he said he would be dreaming of being part of what would be his fourth Ashes battle.
"Every game back in 2005 was special," he said. "Probably my strongest memory was the Old Trafford Test match where the Australians were out on the balcony, celebrating a draw. They were so happy that they managed to draw against England. I think that gave us the belief that we could beat Australia and that's what we did."