Hoggard's feat of endurance inspires amazing England win

<preform>England 411-8 dec &amp; 332-9 dec</br> South Africa 419 &amp; 247</br> England win by 77 runs</preform>
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The Independent Online

Matthew Hoggard produced one of the finest displays by an England fast bowler yesterday when he took his side to an astonishing 77-run victory over South Africa in the fourth Test. Showing heart, endurance and skill, on the final day of a gruelling match, the swing bowler turned a remarkable game of cricket on its head with career best figures of 7 for 61.

Matthew Hoggard produced one of the finest displays by an England fast bowler yesterday when he took his side to an astonishing 77-run victory over South Africa in the fourth Test. Showing heart, endurance and skill, on the final day of a gruelling match, the swing bowler turned a remarkable game of cricket on its head with career best figures of 7 for 61.

Few would have predicted this enthralling Test match would finish in such dramatic style when Michael Vaughan set South Africa 325 runs for victory eight minutes before lunch. The pitch was still playing well and most of those who had watched the initiative in this game swing from one team to the other were expecting Graeme Smith's side to bat out comfortably the 68 overs they were asked to face.

But Hoggard had other ideas. The Yorkshireman kick-started England's charge with a sensational new ball spell, in which he claimed three wickets, before finishing the South Africans off when it appeared they might yet save the game. With the shadows lengthening, the light fading, the clock ticking and the bowlers tiring, England must have been beginning to fear this Johannesburg Test was about to mirror that in Durban, when bad light saved South Africa from defeat.

Smith, the injured South African captain, and Dale Steyn frustrated England's bowlers for 33 minutes, but with 8.3 overs of the game remaining Hoggard finally found the outside edge of Steyn's bat and Geraint Jones took the catch. England's ecstatic fielders mobbed their match winner and then, in a huddle, danced with delight.

"This was a very, very special victory," Vaughan said. "We have had some great wins over the last year and this is certainly up there with them. To bowl out a South African team containing nine batters in two sessions was a truly amazing effort.

"We wanted to set a decent total because we did not know how many overs we would get from Harmy [Stephen Harmison]. Hoggy [Hoggard] and Freddie [Andrew Flintoff] were tired and Jimmy [James Anderson] is young, and it was hard to work out what we would get from them.

"All I asked of them was that they gave it their all for 68 overs and see where we ended up at the end of it.

"This game has been tough mentally because it has been up and down, and there have been quite a lot of interruptions. So by coming back and winning it in those last two sessions we showed amazing mental resolve. It was a great effort."

Vaughan praised all of England's bowlers for their contribution, but it was Hoggard's inspiration which allowed the visitors to bowl South Africa out for 247 and take a 2-1 lead in this five-Test series.

Nobody could possibly begrudge Hoggard his moment in the limelight. The 28-year-old is the most unfashionable member of Vaughan's attack, but it would be hard to find a bowler with a bigger heart. Although he takes the new ball Hoggard seldom gets the choice of ends and tends to perform the tasks England's more celebrated bowlers prefer to avoid.

This win was England's 12th in 15 Test matches, but during this period of unprecedented success Hoggard has performed manfully without winning the accolades of his team-mates. Indeed, before this match the paceman had bowled in 50 Test innings without taking a five-wicket haul.

But, like the buses near his West Yorkshire home, the wickets all arrived at once. Hoggard's career-best figures, along with the 5 for 144 he took in South Africa's first innings, gave him final match analysis of 12 for 205. These are the best by an Englishman since Ian Botham took 13 for 106 against India in Bombay 25 years ago.

Marcus Trescothick's brilliant innings of 180 allowed England to reach 332 for 9, a total which took a South African victory out of the equation.

The nature of the game changed completely during 3.2 overs of high-quality swing bowling after the interval. Hoggard had started swinging the ball away but he trapped A B de Villiers, South Africa's stand in opener, with a delivery that angled into him.

Then, in his fifth over of the day, Hoggard struck twice. Jacques Rudolph could do little about the beautiful in-swinger, which sliced between his bat and pad and uprooted two stumps. This dismissal gave England the belief that they could produce something sensational - but as they returned to their fielding positions they were met by the vision of Jacques Kallis making his way to the middle. The brilliant right-hander is South Africa's prized wicket and Hoggard had said before the match how nice it would be to nick him out early.

And he did just that with a superbly directed away-swinger, which found the outside edge of Kallis's bat and travelled to first slip, where Trescothick took the catch despite Jones diving in front of him. Hoggard went crazy. In the space of two deliveries he had broken the safety chain on South Africa's fragile door.

After eight overs Hoggard took a rest, but England's other pace bowlers - including, remarkably, the fit again Stephen Harmison - failed to make any impression. With time ticking by, Vaughan returned to Hoggard for another burst before tea.

England's latest talisman struck with his third ball to dismiss Boeta Dippenaar. In his next over Mark Boucher became Hoggard's 10th victim of the match, and South Africa went to tea on 98 for 5.

Smith, despite being advised by doctors not take any further part after a blow on the left temple appeared when Nicky Boje chipped a return catch to Hoggard. England showed little sympathy, bowling bouncers at him almost as soon as he took guard. But the injury did not appear to affect his batting.

While South Africa's top order floundered Herschelle Gibbs looked in wonderful touch. But before he could reacquaint himself properly with his usual opening partner Giles won a speculative appeal and Gibbs was on his way two runs short of a second century in the game.

This wicket prevented Hoggard taking all 10 but this was of secondary importance. Flintoff then found the edge of Shaun Pollock's bat before trapping Makhaya Ntini in front.

Smith tried to farm the strike but the light refused to fade and eventually Steyn was exposed.

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