ENG v NZ (1)
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Matthew Hoggard, the swing bowler, has questioned the longevity of Australia's mostly 30-something attack and doubted their ability to knock England over twice. Hoggard was largely ineffective in the 2002-03 Ashes series, where his six wickets cost 62.5 runs each, but he expected his team-mates to target the greybeards when the series starts tomorrow.
"They're getting on a little bit - we've got back-to-back Test matches so it'll be interesting to see if they can put in the consistent performances for 25 days," Hoggard told the Press Association. "It'll be interesting to see if they have the firepower to bowl us out twice."
Glenn McGrath and Shane Ware are 35, Michael Kasprowicz is 32, Jason Gillespie 30 and Brett Lee 28. Hoggard, 28, challenged McGrath to make it to the end of the five-Test series in September. "It's going to be tough on the body, it'll be interesting to see if he is the world-class bowler he was and to see if Jason Gillespie can find some form," he said. Hoggard also said Warne was "not the force he was" and was taking a defensive option by bowling more around the wicket.
While Hoggard was busy talking down Australia, his pace partner Steve Harmison was trying to convince everybody he had a nasty streak. A key component if England are to be successful, Harmison said bowling fast was his job.
"I feel I've got a nasty streak in me but it's when I'm in my cricket gear and have got the ball in my hand," he told AFP. "I don't believe you frighten batsmen. You work them to your advantage. I don't go out intentionally to hurt anyone or frighten anyone."
Harmison was another young bowler to struggle against Australia in 2002-03 when he claimed nine victims at 50.55. Since then he has played 25 Tests, topped the world rankings and stirred up Australia's one-day batsmen with his steepling bounce.