England's old hands face Test of sinew

England's physiotherapist, Kirk Russell, has had a comfortable three weeks overseeing and occasionally treating a youthful, fit and essentially injury-free one-day team in New Zealand. But all that is about to change. England's crocks are in town and he will begin earning his keep. At the conclusion of the final limited-over game here this morning, Russell's attention will turn to the Test squad, a 16-man group containing several older, stiffer and more injury-prone bodies.

Michael Vaughan, Matthew Hoggard, Stephen Harmison, Andrew Strauss and Monty Panesar, with an average age of 30, met up with their one-day colleagues on Thursday. Each is fit, healthy and raring to get into the three-Test series against New Zealand, but older bodies tend to be less malleable than those of their youthful team-mates.

Each of the players named above needs a strong series after England's disappointing display in Sri Lanka before Christmas, and their preparations start on Monday with a two-day warm-up game against an Invitation XI in Dunedin.

A bowler in need of wickets and an injury-free trip is Hoggard, whose form and fitness of late have been patchy. For three years the 31-year-old was the mainstay of England's attack, picking up 156 Test wickets in 40 consecutive matches. Hoggard's run came to an end in the final Ashes Test of 2006-07 and in the 12 Tests he has played since then he has taken 35 wickets at an average of 37. Injury has prevented him from playing in seven of the last 11 Tests too.

Hoggard accepts that he is under pressure but he does not believe it is a bad thing. "I have felt that I have needed to perform all my career," Hoggard said. "I have got to perform to stay in the side and, with the added bonus of people coming through in the one-day side, I have added pressure on me. It is a good thing about the current England set-up. We have strength in depth. Everybody needs to keep on top of their game to stay in the side."

The return of a fit Andrew Flintoff would increase the pressure on Hoggard and England's other fast bowlers. Flintoff is in India playing as a batsman for the England Lions, but he is hoping to be fully fit by the start of the season. "The plan is for me to play in the remaining match and then return home, where I hope to begin walking through my action as the first step towards getting back to bowling again," Flintoff said. "If everything goes to plan I will do a little bit of bowling in Dubai and, hopefully, I can get fully fit for the start of the season.

"I don't know how realistic that is and we probably won't know until I start bowling again. I don't feel any discomfort in my ankle while I'm batting or fielding, but it has felt fine in the past and then I've broken down again. The true test won't come until I have to bowl flat out again. The temptation is to be impatient and rush it, but all the medical people have told me to take it slowly and I'm determined to do that this time. I want to come back as good as new."

* New Zealand's Daniel Vettori, Jacob Oram and Brendon McCullum could join the tour of England in the summer after the rest of the squad because of their involvement in the Indian Premier League.

Listen to Angus Fraser and Stephen Brenkley discuss England's final one-day international at independent.co.uk/sport

Suggested Topics
Life and Style
life
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Life and Style
Chen Mao recovers in BK Hospital, Seoul
health
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff