Hoggard defends England~~s young bowlers

Published: Friday, July 21, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:England swing-bowler Matthew Hoggard insisted his country's raw attack is improving all the time despite their failure to finish off Pakistan.

England were forced to settle for a frustrating draw at Lord's in the first match of a four-Test series after the bowlers were unable to dismiss the tourists in the second innings.

Hoggard had given England the perfect start with an early wicket but Andrew Strauss's side could only remove three more batsmen for the rest of Monday's final day as rookies Liam Plunkett and Monty Panesar struggled to make an impact.

Some experts believe the absence of injured pace duo Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones had exposed a lack of depth in England's bowling resources.

But Hoggard is adamant the criticism is wrong and said Friday: "I think it's a little bit harsh.

"To bowl them out first time for 400 on the flattest wicket you could ever play on was a great effort.

"It didn't degenerate too much, there wasn't any uneven bounce and it didn't turn much, so to say we blew hot and cold is unfair.

"There were periods when we didn't bowl as well as we could do but that happens in cricket.

"I would like to see anyone bowl a team out on that pitch without a mystery spinner."

Yorkshire star Hoggard is one of England's most reliable players and is ranked fifth among the world's leading bowlers, yet he rarely earns the headlines given to team-mates like Flintoff and Stephen Harmison.

However, that suits the modest 29-year-old and he added: "I have been number five for quite a while, not that I look.

"I don't pay much notice to statistics and records, it is about performing on the day, but for me to be up there with the greats in the top 10 of the world is fantastic company. It is nice to be associated with all those great names.

"It is a lot easier when you have people like Harmison and Fred bowling at 90 miles-per-hour and being the hostile, aggressive ones. It leaves you to settle down into your own role.

"For me it has paid dividends and the rewards have been just. It is scary batting against those guys so when a little dibbly-dobbler comes on at the other end I tend to pick up a few wickets on the back of them."

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