Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Durham Reject Given Call-Up

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Durham Reject Given Call-Up

Article excerpt

Byline: By Simon Rushworth

Durham outcast Martin Saggers was last night celebrating a shock international call-up - five seasons after he was shown the door at Chester-le-Street.

The swing bowler will join England's touring party in Bangladesh ahead of the two-Test series following the withdrawal of Lancashire all-rounder Andrew Flintoff.

A jubilant Saggers revealed he had never given up hope of representing his country despite almost a decade in the wilderness.

"I knew if I kept going and took wickets my chance might come along. Obviously you don't turn down any chance to play for England or go on tour," said Saggers.

"I'm going out there full of vigour and hope things go well."

Saggers was plucked from Minor Counties side Norfolk to bolster the Riverside ranks but was deemed surplus to requirements after three largely unsuccessful seasons and left Durham in 1998.

However, his first-class career was resurrected by current county Kent and the 31-year-old finished last season as the English game's joint-leading wicket taker.

Yesterday's call-up to the England squad followed the withdrawal of Flintoff with groin trouble - a move which leaves the door wide open for Saggers' former Durham colleague Paul Collingwood to make his long-awaited Test debut.

Saggers was included in England's provisional 30-man squad for last winter's World Cup in South Africa after claiming 83 first-class wickets during the 2002 season.

And Kent captain David Fulton is confident the competent middle-order batsman and medium fast bowler - who had been playing club cricket in South Africa - will serve England with distinction.

"He's not just about pitching it up and getting late away swing," explained Kent's skipper. "He's hostile enough - he bowls a good bouncer - he's got a good yorker and slower ball, he's not just a one-trick pony. I'm sure he'll go well in any type of conditions."

Flintoff will not travel with the rest of the squad to Dhaka and instead stays behind to receive treatment and strengthening work from Lancashire physio Dave Roberts. …

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