Englands Hoggard may face axe in home ground match

Published: Monday, July 1, 2002, 20:54 [IST]
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London: England could drop Matthew Hoggard for its next match after the fast bowler's rocky start to the triangular One-day series, coach Duncan Fletcher admitted.

In England's opening two matches of the tournament, against Sri Lanka and India, Yorkshire quick Hoggard's combined 18.5 overs have yielded just one wicket for 111 runs. Now ahead of Tuesday's match, against Sri Lanka, Hoggard may be removed from the firing line even though the game is being played on his home ground of Headingley. "We want him to bowl to some degree and you just try and get through with some characters," explained Fletcher as he reflected on England's six-wicket defeat by India at Lord's on Saturday.

"We did that with Andrew Flintoff when he didn't have a good run at some stage and we just kept him going. "We'll have to look at that and address it, we'll have to have a lot of discussions over the next couple of days and see what we're going to do about it." Hoggard's inconsistency almost saw him axed ahead of the second Test against Sri Lanka at Edgbaston after an uninspiring performance during the Lord's opener.

He justified the selectors' confidence by bowling England to victory with a seven- wicket match haul and performed manfully again even on Old Trafford's ideal batting pitch during the final Test victory. But his decline in form started during England's embarrassing One-day warm up defeat against Wales, where his seven overs were smashed for 63 runs. "You're going to find that with inexperienced players, that they go up and down," stressed Fletcher.

"The difference is that experienced players know how to go through bad spells and inexperienced players get more of a knock. "I wouldn't go as far as saying his confidence is fragile because he's quite a confident guy in many ways, but it does take quite a lot of character for these players to maintain their top form." Fletcher conceded that Hoggard was being handicapped by the absence through injury of senior pacemen Darren Gough (knee) and Andy Caddick (side strain).

Yorkshireman Gough remains confident of a One-day come back but the knowledge that Somerset star Caddick will be out for the entire triangular series may have added to Hoggard's burden of responsibility. "Any bowler would prefer to bowl alongside a quality bowler like that," he conceded. "Hoggard is struggling with line and length a bit and consistency. That's something we have to worry about and the ball hasn't really swung and his forte is when the ball swings.

"When it does that's when he's really potent but when it doesn't he's still a little bit inexperienced at this stage and he will have to learn more about variations." Meanwhile Gough, who bowled 10 overs during a Yorkshire second XI match Friday, will have to pass a fitness test before England decides whether to play him against Sri Lanka.

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