Hoggard makes most of enforced break in play

England pace man's confidence returns as Australia power back to top of one-day table while New Zealand and India set Test record

As England's most successful bowler in 2002 with 46 wickets Matthew Hoggard should be looking forward to a nice relaxing Christmas, safe in the knowledge that his career is moving in the right direction. However, after being dropped for the Perth Test and the pre-Christmas round of one-day matches because it was felt he had lost confidence, the Yorkshire pace bowler finds his immediate international future in the precarious hands of the selectors.

With selection for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne and England's 15-man World Cup squad to be announced in the next few days, Hoggard's festive season could be either happy or hollow. "It is going to be an apprehensive and strange Christmas," he said. "I have never had nets on Christmas Day before and that will be strange, but hopefully it is going to be a happy one. Hopefully I can get my Test place back and I will be doing all that I can to achieve this. I don't think I could have done any more than I did in Perth."

For it is in Western Australia that Hoggard and the other six Test players whose services were not required during the VB Series have spent the last fortnight preparing for this week's Test and, in an effort to win his place back, the 25-year-old has been looking to his Australian opponents for some tips.

"When I was in Perth Duncan Fletcher [the England coach] sent me a copy of a statement that Glenn McGrath made," he said. "It was about the way he thinks about his bowling, the way he trains and his mental approach.

"On the technical side we looked at Jason Gillespie when we worked on my run-up. He has a short run-up where everything is tight, close in and up taller. I have shortened my run up from 23 to 19 paces to make me feel taller, stronger and more compact at the crease. Even though I will look absolutely nothing like him it feels that everything is there at the moment for me. I have worked hard in the nets with [the England bowling coach] Graham Dilley and we have got it right."

While the opposition were not as testing as he has previously faced, such confidence has been backed up by figures of 8 for 119 during the warm-up game against the National Academy last week in Perth.

If Hoggard makes the Test XI on Boxing Day there will be one change in the side he faces. Following Shane Warne's shoulder dislocation the Australian selectors have called up their No 2 leg-spinner, Stuart MacGill.

As a citizen of any other country, the New South Welshman would have played far more than his 17 Test matches. With 81 wickets MacGill has taken his opportunities when they have arisen, but he has had to be content to play second fiddle to the great man.

"Any team missing a superb bowler like Warne, whose record speaks for itself, is going to find it a big loss," said Hoggard on hearing of MacGill's selection. "It is the name that gets him a lot of wickets so they are going to miss him. It is going to be a psychological boost to us, because who would you rather face – MacGill or Warne – and a downer for them. And every little helps on this tour."

Hoggard's research into bowlers may not have gone as far as it should because MacGill's record against England – 27 wickets in four Tests at an average of 17.7 – is better than Warne's.

* The Shadow Foreign Secretary Michael Ancram has sent a letter to the England captain Nasser Hussain urging him to refuse to play in Zimbabwe, saying it would "morally, humanly and rationally wrong" to play there in the World Cup.

Arts and Entertainment
filmPoldark production team claims innocence of viewers' ab frenzy
Life and Style
Google marks the 81st anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster's most famous photograph
techIt's the 81st anniversary of THAT iconic photograph
News
Katie Hopkins makes a living out of courting controversy
people
News
General Election
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
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

Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

Open letter to David Cameron

Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

You don't say!

Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

So what is Mubi?

Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

The hardest job in theatre?

How to follow Kevin Spacey
Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

This human tragedy has been brewing for years

EU states can't say they were not warned
Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

Women's sportswear

From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

Clinton's clothes

Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders