Posts Tagged ‘matthew hoggard’

Yorkshire’s decision to release Matthew Hoggard (if it was indeed their decision rather than his – reports so far tend to take one side or the other) is surprising, to say the least. He took more First-Class wickets than any other Yorkshire bowler (although admittedly he didn’t do too well in the shorter formats), and for such a long and distinguished spell with the county to come to such a rancorous end is sad and unexpected.

Leicestershire are already interested in signing up the most sheepdogesque of England’s 2005 Ashes winners, and no doubt there will be other counties who will be keeping an eye on developments as well, but for Hoggard to be playing for anyone other than Yorkshire just seems wrong, even through my own Red Rose-tinted spectacles.

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Whether or not it was due to Devon Malcomesque frustration at continually being bounced when taking the nightwatchman role to protect KP, or a preference for early-summer (read: winter) conditions, Jimmy Anderson has been bowling really well recently, and indeed has hardly looked back since his recall to the England side during 2008’s tour of New Zealand.

Whilst Matthew Hoggard (who Anderson replaced in New Zealand) has languished in the international wilderness, Anderson has gone from strength to strength, being named as one of the Wisden Cricketers of the Year. Although it hasn’t all been smooth sailing, the fact that the ‘Burnley Express’ is now the most secure in his place of all England’s fast bowlers is quite a development. His ability to swing the ball both ways is crucial to England’s gameplan, and it’s certainly nice to be able to type his name next to the word ‘reliable’ without have to go via the ‘u’ and ‘n’ keys.

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  • Durham surprised a lot of people with their Championship win last year, and with Steve Harmison out of favour with England once again, their bowling attack looks just as strong as it was in 2008. Ian Blackwell has come in to bolster the middle order and add a spin option, and Shivnarine Chanderpaul returns in June following the World Twenty20.
  • Hampshire arguably owe last year’s survival, let alone their eventual third place, to the spin bowling of Imran Tahir, who returns from June. In the meantime, Australian Marcus North comes in as an overseas player to add runs, and Dominic Cork also arrives following his release by Lancashire. Chris Tremlett will also be key for the attack, whilst Mascarenhas’ England and IPL commitments will drain the Rose Bowl’s resources for much of the season.
  • Lancashire have released Dominic Cork and Stuart Law, whilst Andrew Flintoff and James Anderson are likely to make very few appearances for their county, so the Red Rose lineup will be somewhat unfamiliar in places. Mark Chilton and Francois Du Plessis need to improve on last year’s performances with the bat, or relegation may threaten to make Peter Moores’ 2009 even worse.
  • Nottinghamshire may spend the majority of the season watching their three best bowlers ply their trade for England, so the likes of Shreck and Pattinson will be key. If Samit Patel gets fit enough to be called up as well, the side could look a little thin in the middle order, but if newlywed Adam Voges can translate his limited-overs form to the four-day game then the prospect of a title challenge isn’t too far-fetched to consider.
  • Somerset continue to have an incredibly strong top order (especially with and Marcus Trescothick as an opening pair), but with Ian Blackwell moving to Durham and Andy Caddick into his 40s, the bowling attack looks worryingly thin. Unless a young gun steps up to take wickets, a proliferation of draws may ensue.
  • Warwickshire face the step up from Division Two without Ian Salisbury, but Jeetan Patel should be a strong addition to their four-day side. If Ian Bell stays out of the England team long enough to feature regularly, then the Bears can reap the benefits. Similarly, Tim Ambrose will be a force in the County game even he doesn’t cut it at Test level.
  • Worcestershire enter the post-Hick era in 2009, which puts a lot of pressure on Vikram Solanki and the likes of Stephen Moore. Gareth Batty’s recent England call-up underlined his quality with the ball, but the pace attack is relatively weak, especially given Simon Jones’ continuing injury problems. If Solanki and Kabir Ali find form, then the side can look for more than just consolidation in their return to Division One.
  • Yorkshire came uncomfortably close to relegation last year, but players of the quality of Michael Vaughan, Anthony McGrath, Matthew Hoggard and Adil Rashid should see them improve in 2009 (assuming England call-ups don’t intervene). A championship challenge may be asking too much, and adjusting to life without Darren Gough will be difficult, but there is enough class (especially with Jacques Rudolph in the side) for a top-half finish.

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England’s selectors, following their side’s defeat at Edgbaston which clinched the series for South Africa, face a choice. Carry on more or less as things are, or make dramatic changes. At the moment, the evidence seems to tilt towards the latter as the best course of action.

The form of a number of the batsmen, not least the captain, has been well below par. Whilst Collingwood has probably saved himself with his big score in the second innings at Edgbaston, it is far from clear that he should have been in the side to make it. However good he is in the dressing room, he’s spent far too much time in there when England have been batting.

Similarly, Vaughan’s captaincy skills may be enough to justify inclusion in the side when it’s winning, but it isn’t. England haven’t beaten anyone other than New Zealand or the West Indies since August 2006, and those two are very much second-tier Test sides (or at least were at the time – the West Indies seem to be improving at the moment).

As for the bowlers, the “confused” selection seems to veer between ultra-conservatism, nostalgia and wild stabs in the dark. Far less loyalty has been shown to, say, Matthew Hoggard, than to players such as Collingwood.

I don’t expect that the selectors agree, of course. They will have their reasons for each selection decision, but the conspiracy theories will gain credence if they don’t do something soon.

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Following Matthew Hoggard’s thumb injury, part-time model Chris Tremlett has been called up to the England squad for the 2nd Test against New Zealand.

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What kind of horrible pressure are England’s fringe bowlers under? First Matthew Hoggard resorts to planning car crashes in order to free up a place in the team, then Steve Harmison ups the ante by breaking the Hoggster’s thumb, ruling him out of the Second Test.

This is like some sort of horrible fight to the death for a bowling spot.

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Jimmy Anderson took three wickets today. That probably means he’ll still be in the side for the Second Test, which means little hope for the Hoggster, to whom Anderson was preferred. Some people won’t be happy about this. If I was a box, I’d be worried.

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Even though it’s barely five minutes since the last Test series between these two sides, the next one gets underway on Thursday. The short interval means that the sides facing each other at Lord’s will be very familiar. The players who excelled in New Zealand, such as Ryan Sidebottom and Tim Southee, will be expected to continue in a similar vein.

There will be a few noticeable changes, though, not least the absence of Stephen Fleming. The Black Caps’ batting line-up will have to adjust for the first series since their former captain’s retirement, but good recent performances from the likes of Aaron Redmond mean that runs are still likely to be scored (although New Zealand often rival England in the art of the collapse).

Another source of runs for the Black Caps, and one of many New Zealand players who spent the short period since the last series over in India is Brendon McCullum, although he will probably need to calm things down a little to make big Test scores, after proving himself in the hurried pace of the IPL.

From England’s perspective, there are a lot of players hoping to regain form (not least the captain, who might do well to stop practising his textbook forward defensive shot and start scoring runs), or to prove something to the selectors (or to themselves). Nevertheless, home advantage makes England clear favourites.

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As the County season is about to properly start, here’s my preview of County Championship Division One.

  • Kent
    Positives: Joe Denly looks exciting, plus they are Champions of the most popular form of cricket at the moment (that’s Twenty20, not Brockian Ultra-Cricket)
    Negatives: The bowlers are OK, but they aren’t of the standard that many other county attacks offer.
  • Lancashire
  • Positives: Ashes Hero Freddie Flintoff will actually play some games for Lancashire this year, and there are still more than enough wise old heads to suggest a decent chance of silverware.
    Negatives: The psychological damage of last year will be hard to overcome, and the average age of the side is about 56.

  • Nottinghamshire
    Positives: David Hussey, future Australia star, will score runs aplenty when he’s available, plus there will be occasional cameos from new signing Stuart ‘Ricky’ Broad.
    Negatives: Stephen Fleming’s captaincy skills will be missed, and there are a few concerns about the bowling when Sidebottom and Broad are away on England duty.

There may be a Division Two preview tomorrow, but there may not be if I can’t be bothered.

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England have now squared the series thanks largely to Jimmy Anderson, but even the captain realises that they’re not really a proper team.

Good performances form Tim Ambrose (even if he did miss a stumping) and Paul Collingwood helped greatly, but the fundamental difference from the first test was the first innings bowling. There may still be come clamouring for a Hoggard recall, but I wouldn’t mind the same XI going into the deciding test.

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Well, maybe took 5-73 on the second day of the second Test to put England in the driving seat against the Black Caps.

Anderson, of course, had overs on Kiwi soil under his belt, which must have helped.

Stuart Broad also took a wicket, although he didn’t add much steel to the lower order, making 1 run from 7 balls.

Captain Ginger also made people think ‘hey, he’s actually an all-rounder in Test cricket, too’ by making 65 runs and taking 3-23.

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If you were one of those feeling sorry for Matthew Hoggard after he was axed by England, then spare a thought for Andre Nel.

Nel, despite good form, has been dropped, probably for political reasons. Positive discrimination is usually controversial, and South Africa’s ‘transformation‘ policy has been no different.

Personally, I think the mixing of sport and politics is usually a bad idea. In this case, the policy is in danger of reinforcing the divisions between ‘players of colour’ and their white counterparts.

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