Hoggard ~~standing~~ between India and victory

Published: Tuesday, February 28, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:With an injury-hit England struggling to find 11 fit players for the first Test against India, Matthew Hoggard believes he is an automatic choice for the Nagpur match just ''Because I am still standing''.

''As far as I can tell, I am happy to report that I am one player who is going into the first Test in full fitness.'' ''Because I am still standing, I must have a good chance of making the team for the first Test tomorrow,'' Hoggard wrote in the Times.

The pacer managed to laugh even in the difficult situation his team found itself in after reaching India. He said with the list of injuries getting longer everyday, it might not be too long before he or even Steve Harmison is asked to lead the side.

''Harmison and I have been discussing, with some trepidation, how many more players would have to get injured before one of us would be asked to captain the team.'' ''I think there are a couple more to go before the situation becomes that desperate, but nobody is counting their chickens here at the moment,'' he wrote.

Incidentally he was the highest scorer (48) for England in the second warm up match against Board President's XI in Baroda and had his teammates supported him at the other end, the medium pacer could have prevented the tourists from slumping to the embarrasing loss.

On a more serious note, Hoggard said the going will be tough for England in the wake of injuries.

''I have never known anything like the problems with injury and illness that we have had this week. It has been like Piccadilly Circus in the team hotel with all the comings and goings; not so much a case of one in, one out as one busload in, one busload out,'' he said.

But Hoggard is confident that new skipper Andrew Flintoff will take care of the situation in the absence of regular captain Michael Vaughan.

''Thankfully, in Andrew Flintoff, we have someone who is really keen to take on the job. Andrew will bring his own style and personality to the captaincy, he has the undoubted respect of all the players.

''It will be a different experience having Andrew as captain, but I am looking forward to playing under him. He is the sort of person who thrives on pressure and I am confident that he will do a good job until Michael's knee recovers,'' he said.

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