Hoggard joins England's 50 club

England fast bowlers have had the reputation of being injury-prone. It is an unwanted label but injury, sadly, comes with a job that is as physically demanding as any in sport.

Yet Matthew Hoggard and Stephen Harmison, England's opening pair, are the only two players who have been fit to play in every Test since the team's run of unparalleled success began in the West Indies in February 2004. During this period Harmison's wonderful bowling has grabbed many headlines but today in Mohali, Hoggard, one of the team's quiet achievers, will make his 50th Test appearance for England.

It is a landmark that should not go unnoticed. In an era when cricketers are retiring from the game with more than 100 Test caps, 50 does not sound a lot but Hoggard will become only the ninth England fast bowler to reach his half-century. "It obviously means a lot to me," Hoggard said yesterday. "Just being selected to play for England means a lot to me, so it is a big honour to get to 50. Hopefully, I can do something worthwhile in the match."

It is not the first occasion Hoggard has played in Mohali and he does not have particularly fond memories of his previous visit. In the winter of 2001-02, England toured India with a weakened side. The team performed admirably under Nasser Hussain's captaincy, with their only defeat, by the margin of 10 wickets, coming at this venue.

"My only memory of playing here four years ago was getting a massive volley from Nasser," he said. "I did not bowl bouncers at the Indian lower-order batsman who came out to bat when they needed three or four to win and I received verbal abuse for about five minutes. Nasser was frustrated at losing the Test and he took it out on me, but it was my third Test match and my first in India. I felt very small."

Hoggard has grown since Hussain's rocket and in Andrew Flintoff he will have a far more sympathetic leader. His rise to the top has had its disappointments and there are many - including, on occasions, England's selectors - who have doubted his ability to succeed at the highest level. But Hoggard is a competitor. He works hard and he gets on with his job and he now has 191 Test wickets to his name.

Michael Vaughan's relaxed and sympathetic style of captaincy has brought the best out of him. In 19 Tests under Hussain, Hoggard took 69 wickets at an average of 33.6. In 27 under Vaughan, he has taken 110 at 27.

In the first Test in Nagpur, England once again fielded a weakened side but Hoggard led the way, taking 7 for 86 on a horrible low, slow, grassless pitch, and England can expect a similar surface here. That he is able to compete in these conditions is testament to his durability and his ability to learn. It was felt by many that Hoggard would struggle to take wickets when the ball did not swing conventionally but his performance last week made a fool of those who doubted him.

Hoggard's accuracy prevented India's batsmen from scoring freely and he took his wickets through a combination of cleverly hidden slower balls and reverse-swing inswingers. These are skills rarely needed at Headingley, his home ground.

"My bowling in Nagpur was my best for England," he said. "I have never bowled so consistently before and, hopefully, I can reproduce that here. The most important thing I have learnt over the last four years is patience. When I was young my thinking was fragile and naïve and I used to go searching for wickets. But very rarely do you blast a batsman out or get a huge amount of help from the wicket, so you have to be patient and put the batsman under pressure. Hopefully then they will make a mistake."

This approach has made Hoggard the fourth-best bowler in the world, according to the official Test rankings. It is a position he enjoys but one he is struggling to come to terms with. "It is quite scary to be amongst the Warnes, the McGraths and the Muralitharans," he said. "Being up there will only hit me when I finish and I have become a cynical old bowler. Then I will be able to say, 'Look, back then I was fourth."

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments