Cricket: Hoggard Ready to Take Place among the Best

Article excerpt

England's opening bowler Matthew Hoggard this morning finds himself one wicket away from a Test cricket landmark.

The Yorkshire pace bowler entered this match needing just three more victims to become only the 10th England bowler to reach 200 wickets. By accounting for Sri Lanka's openers, Upul Tharanga and Jehan Mubarak - both leg before - he took himself to the brink of joining his fellow Yorkshiremen Freddie Trueman, third on 307 wickets, and Darren Gough, in eighth place with 229, on the list.

For a long time Hoggard had been regarded more as a willing workhorse, a support bowler who would not let the side down. But the Ashes series last summer and the two winter series in Pakistan and India demonstrated that the 29-year-old deserves a lot more credit than that.

While he will always be remembered for his epic eighth-wicket stand with Ashley Giles in the fourth Test at Trent Bridge last August, it should not be forgotten that five of the 16 wickets he claimed in the series came in that match.

He has a knack of picking off crucial batsmen at critical moments. He had a magnificent winter, emerging with 23 wickets from the six Tests, including his sixth haul of five wickets in an innings, and he certainly played his part in ensuring the drawn rubber against India.

His big-hearted attitude and work ethic is a perfect example for the likes of Sajid Mahmood, who obliged with three wickets in the final session yesterday, and Liam Plunkett.

Hoggard's ability to generate reverse swing has contributed enormously to his armoury, but he also varies his pace cunningly and often has batsmen in two minds.

He is no slouch in the field either, as his throw from mid-off to the wicketkeeper Geraint Jones showed. Hoggard's accuracy ensured that Tillakaratne Dilshan had not a hope of making his ground. …