Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hogg's Ready to Join the Big League

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Hogg's Ready to Join the Big League

Article excerpt

Matthew Hoggard will get the opportunity to join England's elite list of bowlers this week ( but he will not be counting.

Yorkshire swing bowler Hoggard earns his 50th cap in the second Test against India at Mohali, needing just three wickets to surpass Jim Laker and take his place in the top 10 English wicket-takers of all-time.

Not that Hoggard, whose outstanding display in Nagpur helped England dominate the drawn first Test, has kept a tally of his 191 Test successes as former colleague Darren Gough famously did.

Gough used to keep a list of England's most successful bowlers in the lid of his cricket coffin and tick individuals off as he passed them.

But Hoggard said: "I am completely the opposite, I couldn't tell you how many wickets I have taken at the moment.

"I don't even have a coffin, it is bags these days and the only thing stuck to the top of that is dirt from the last time I didn't clean my boots properly."

So often the unheralded member of England's successful four-pronged pace attack over the last couple of years ( he once dubbed himself the `pea shooter' due to his lack of pace ( there is certainly some speed regarding his productivity.

Should he take the nine wickets required for his double century in the next two Tests, only Gough, who marked his 50th cap in style, Ian Botham, Jon Snow, Alec Bedser and Fred Trueman of his fellow countryman will have got there quicker.

"It means a lot to me, just being selected each time means a lot to me," said Hoggard, of his half-century. "I only ever look to the next game so it is a big honour for me to be selected for 50."

He keeps star company these days, with only Muttiah Muralitharan, Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne ahead of the 29-year-old in the official Test bowling rankings.

Hoggard rose to fourth on the back of a six-wicket haul in the first innings at Nagpur and overall match figures of 46.5-20-86-7, the kind of performance to rank alongside his dozen scalps in Johannesburg a year ago, a hat-trick in Barbados or his inaugural seven-for in New Zealand in 2002.

"That was the best I have ever bowled for England in a Test match, it was the most consistent spell I have bowled and hopefully I can keep on reproducing that over here," said Hoggard, of last week's toil on a lifeless track. …

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