Hoggard in race for fitness to face tourists

Matthew Hoggard will spend several hours a day in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber at a hospital near Lord's in an attempt to prove his fitness for Thursday's first Test against Pakistan. Hoggard had to have six stitches after his England A team-mate Tim Bresnan trod on his right hand during a game of touch rugby before Saturday's play against the tourists, and it is hoped the treatment will increase the speed of his recovery.

England are optimistic that their most experienced and consistent bowler will be fit for Lord's, but the selectors are concerned over Hoggard's lack of bowling match practice. Hoggard has sent down just 22 competitive overs since England's Test defeat to Sri Lanka on 5 June, and the injury has prevented him from bowling a ball in anger at Canterbury.

The lacerations are on Hoggard's right palm and are unlikely to interfere with his bowling, but the stiffness and swelling could. It will also affect his batting and the risk of picking up an infection cannot be ruled out.

Losing Hoggard would be a devastating blow to an England attack that has already been deprived of Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones and Ashley Giles because of injury, and the selectors will attempt to assess how well he is bowling during practice tomorrow and on Wednesday.

"He will be using the same oxygen room as Simon Jones used," said David Graveney, the chairman of selectors. "It would be reasonable to see him bowl in the nets on Wednesday to see what he can and cannot do. We will see how he reacts to bowling before we make a decision."

The uncertainty surrounding Hoggard encouraged the England selectors to include Sajid Mahmood, an extra fast bowler, in the 13-man squad. The absence of Flintoff, who continued his recovery from an ankle injury by taking 3 for 4 in three overs for Lancashire in yesterday's Twenty20 win over Nottinghamshire, means Mahmood is unlikely to play even if Hoggard fails to prove his fitness.

Ian Bell will bat at six, a decision that highlights the futility of attempting to find a like-for-like replacement for Flintoff, and England will field a team containing just four front-line bowlers. In the past, England have been guilty of picking bits-and-pieces cricketers when Flintoff has been injured, but the tactic has failed because these players have not been good enough with either bat or ball. But by picking Bell, England will play a cricketer who has proved that he can score runs at this level.

"You can't replace the irreplaceable so you weaken the batting or bowling," said Graveney. "The scenario is that Bell will play and he and Paul Collingwood will supplement the four-man attack. We have included five pace bowlers in the squad as we need cover for Hoggard following the hand injury. Without Flintoff, there is a greater responsibility on Harmison and Hoggard, if he is available."

If Hoggard plays, Mahmood and Jonathan Lewis will miss out. Mahmood was not the only England fast bowler to be flogged around by the Sri Lankans during the NatWest series, but the assault seemed to affect him more than the others and he was dropped for the final two matches.

Lewis will play if Hoggard is unfit, and the sight of the Gloucestershire seamer walking out at Lord's would be reassuring for Andrew Strauss, England's stand-in captain. At the highest level, Lewis' bowling lacks penetration but he can bowl to a field and Strauss would be grateful for that.

Jamie Dalrymple, the Middlesex off-spinner, was the only notable omission from the squad, but Lord's is a venue where English spinners have had very little success. If Dalrymple were to play, he would do so at the expense of Bell and this would weaken England's batting. The 25-year-old could well feature in the second Test at Old Trafford, a ground that generally helps slow bowlers.

Monty Panesar will shoulder England's spin options and he is likely to get plenty of bowling over the course of the next week. After taking 5 for 78 against Sri Lanka at Trent Bridge, Panesar's confidence should be high.

But Pakistan may well look to target Panesar, knowing that the physical demands on three fast bowlers will be high if they can hit him out of the attack.

England Test squad for Lord's

A J Strauss (Middlesex, captain), I R Bell (Warwickshire), P D Collingwood (Durham), A N Cook (Essex), S J Harmison (Durham), M J Hoggard (Yorkshire), G O Jones (Kent), J Lewis (Gloucestershire), S I Mahmood (Lancashire), M S Panesar (Northamptonshire), K P Pietersen (Hampshire), L E Plunkett (Durham), M E Trescothick (Somerset).

Suggested Topics
News
people
News
A survey carried out by Sainsbury's Finance found 20% of new university students have never washed their own clothes, while 14% cannot even boil an egg
science...and the results are not as pointless as that sounds
News
politicsIs David Cameron trying to prove he's down with the kids?
News
Cumberbatch was speaking on US television when he made the comment (Getty)
people
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

Woman who was sent to three Nazi death camps describes how she escaped the gas chamber

Auschwitz liberation 70th anniversary

Woman sent to three Nazi death camps describes surviving gas chamber
DSK, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel

The inside track on France's trial of the year

Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Dodo the Pimp, and the Carlton Hotel:
As provocative now as they ever were

Sarah Kane season

Why her plays are as provocative now as when they were written
Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of a killing in Iraq 11 years ago

Murder of Japanese hostage has grim echoes of another killing

Japanese mood was against what was seen as irresponsible trips to a vicious war zone
Syria crisis: Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more refugees as one young mother tells of torture by Assad regime

Celebrities call on David Cameron to take more Syrian refugees

One young mother tells of torture by Assad regime
The enemy within: People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back – with promising results

The enemy within

People who hear voices in their heads are being encouraged to talk back
'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

'In Auschwitz you got used to anything'

Survivors of the Nazi concentration camp remember its horror, 70 years on
Autumn/winter menswear 2015: The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore

Autumn/winter menswear 2015

The uniforms that make up modern life come to the fore
'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

'I'm gay, and plan to fight military homophobia'

Army general planning to come out
Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

What the six wise men told Tony Blair

Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

25 years of The Independent on Sunday

The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

Homeless Veterans appeal

As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

Smash hit go under the hammer

It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

The geeks who rocked the world

A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea