Hoggard hungry for Ashes comeback
Former Australia opener Justin Langer, who retired from the Test scene in January 2007, is considering extending his competitive cricket career to the age of 40
Matthew Hoggard wants to make sure the tour of New Zealand earlier this year will not turn out to be his international farewell
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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
"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
"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."
Jason Dasey is an international broadcaster and corporate host based in Hong Kong