It is the kind of promotion that only a career-best 7 for 63 can help make, but even the Barmy Army cannot deny that Matthew Hoggard has graduated from being a monkey to the "King of the Swingers" after routing New Zealand for 147 yesterday, a total that gave England a first-innings lead of 81 runs on the second day of the first Test here.
Hoggard's emergence this winter as a class act will have heartened the England captain, Nasser Hussain, and the coach, Duncan Fletcher, particularly as it has coincided with Darren Gough's self-imposed exile.
Helped by overnight rain freshening up the conditions, these were the finest figures of Hoggard's professional career, beating both his Test best of 4 for 80 against India in Bangalore, as well as the 6 for 51 he took for Yorkshire against Essex at Scarborough last season.
Under different circumstances and conditions in India before Christmas, Hoggard showed himself to be highly disciplined and a great trier. Here, with the ball swinging about, he became a strike bowler of deadly potency, taking his wickets in fairly quick succession.
It has not all been bouquets and, all through the Yorkshireman's winter of content, the Barmy Army have been chanting "Hoggy is a monkey," though not maliciously. Here, with their ranks swelled to something approaching 1,500 mainly sun-fried bodies, he responded with his simian impressions after virtually every wicket. Talent scouts for the new Daktari series were rumoured to be unimpressed.
When he was not apeing about for the crowd, Hoggard's prodigious outswing wreaked havoc among the Kiwi batsmen. Unsure whether to play or leave, their faltering techniques were horribly exposed as nine home wickets and two England wickets fell on the second day here.
Amid the carnage, only the night-watchman, Daniel Vettori, who made 42, and the opener Matthew Horne, were not totally in his thrall, as he moved the Kookaburra ball in can-opening curves. The reasons for such generous swing are many but one factor is a ball that stays shiny.
At this ground, the use of drop-in pitches means that there are no used strips on the square to rough it up. "It's nice to rock up somewhere the ball swings and the pitch is helpful," Hoggard said. "This winter has been a big test for me but also a big chance to prove myself. I was disappointed to be injured for the Ashes series last summer, but I'm grateful to the selectors for picking me this winter."
Less grateful were the New Zealand batsmen, of whom Lou Vincent appeared the most clueless. On his debut against Australia recently, Vincent scored a century in the first innings and fifty in the second. Here, having been dropped twice in the slips on nought and two, he eventually had his off-stump removed by an outswinger that squared him up.
With most of his victims either falling lbw or in the arc between wicketkeeper and slip, only Craig McMillan fell in front of square. A powerful striker, McMillan clubbed a brisk 40 off 48 balls, though he was missed by Craig White, who, coming on as a substitute fielder, dropped him at third man off Andrew Flintoff when he was on 15.
McMillan's lusty strokeplay made a change from the groping and shuffling of his colleagues. In one over off Andrew Caddick, he scored 14 runs with three shots, one a pulled six into the stands. But, with Hussain spreading the field, Hoggard was brought back, a plan that brought success as McMillan smeared a catch to Michael Vaughan at wide mid-on.
Considering Hoggard has not yet acquired much guile, such as a slower ball, and only swings it one way, the opposition's capitulation was surprising, especially for a team that ran Australia so close over three Tests a few months ago.
If the home team's morale has been dented, news that their best player, Chris Cairns, has a patella tendon strain in his right knee did not help matters either. A player nearly always in the wars, Cairns has vowed to soldier on in this match, though, with an operation planned before the end of the series, he must be in doubt for the next Test.
The biggest surprise of the day, however, given his gauche soliloquies about leading England's attack in Gough's absence, was Caddick's virtual anonymity on a pitch he should want to take around with him – something he could probably manage given its portability.
But, if Hoggard owes everything to Gough's decision to stay at home tending his daffodils – he probably would not be playing otherwise – it appears to be costing Caddick dearly by placing more pressure on his shoulders. Try as the tall pace bowler might, the high expectations to take wickets on a juicy pitch, and the abnormally spongy run-ups, appeared to upset his rhythm.
All bowlers have days like that, but Caddick tends to draw attention to himself by making excuses. In this instance, it was his constant whingeing about the muddy take-off area from the City End, which he kept pawing after every innocuous ball, of which there were far too many on a grassy pitch tailor-made for his type of bowling.
Caddick did not exactly bowl badly, but he did not threaten much either, at least not until he replaced Hoggard at the Lyttleton End. Then, in his second over of the new spell, he suddenly took three wickets in five balls and found himself on a hat-trick, having removed Stephen Fleming, then both Cairns and Adam Parore in successive balls.
Parore was another to feel the loose interpretations of the umpires so far in this match, the ball striking him too high and too leg-side to be lbw. But if that was a curious decision, the fracas that ensued after bad light descended during England's second innings threatened to turn the match into a Restoration comedy.
The problem began when Marcus Trescothick, having already lost his opening partner Vaughan after the right-hander played across a half-volley, was dismissed having turned down the umpire's offer to take bad light.
To be fair, it was the right decision and Trescothick, who had earlier been dropped by Parore after top-edging a hook, had begun to cut loose, thumping Ian Butler for three fours. But despite new regulations that require grounds with floodlights to turn them on and play on when bad light descends, the umpires offered the light again to Nasser Hussain, who, as a new batsman on nought, promptly took it.
But if that should have been the end of the matter, play, with floodlights lit, restarted 40 minutes later, only to be suspended once more this time until the close. Apparently, light can be too good for the floodlights to have much effect and still too bad for the batsman to see.
New Zealand won toss
ENGLAND First Innings 228 (N Hussain 106).
NEW ZEALAND First Innings
M H Richardson lbw b Hoggard 2
14 min, 19 balls
M J Horne c Thorpe b Hoggard 14
80 min, 59 balls, 2 fours
D L Vettori c Foster b Hoggard 42
85 min, 57 balls, 7 fours
L Vincent b Hoggard 12
50 min, 33 balls, 2 fours
*S P Fleming c Giles b Caddick 12
87 min, 59 balls, 2 fours
N J Astle lbw b Hoggard 10
9 min, 8 balls, 1 four
C D McMillan c Vaughan b Hoggard 40
80 min, 48 balls, 7 fours, 1 six
C L Cairns c Flintoff b Caddick 0
2 min, 3 balls
ÝA C Parore lbw b Caddick 0
1 min, 1 ball
C J Drum not out 2
36 min, 27 balls
I G Butler c Hussain b Hoggard 0
7 min, 2 balls
Extras (lb5, nb8) 13
Total (230 min, 51.2 overs) 147
Fall: 1-4 (Richardson), 2-50 (Horne), 3-65 (Vettori), 4-79 (Vincent), 5-93 (Astle), 6-117 (Fleming), 7-117 (Cairns), 8-117 (Parore), 9-146 (McMillan), 10-147 (Butler).
Bowling: Caddick 18-8-50-3 (nb3) (6-3-10-0, 8-3-18-0, 4-2-22-3); Hoggard 21.2-7-63-7 (nb2) (20-7-59-5, 1.2-0-4-2); Flintoff 12-2-29-0 (nb3) (4-1-11-0, 8-1-18-0).
Progress: First day: Close: 9-1 (Horne 0, Vettori 4) 6 overs. Second day: overnight rain delayed start until 11.46am. 50: 79 min, 19 overs. Lunch: 66-3 (Vincent 2, Fleming 0) 27 overs. 100: 166 min, 38.4 overs. Innings closed: 3.52pm tea taken.
ENGLAND Second Innings
M E Trescothick c Vettori b Butler 33
53 min, 44 balls, 5 fours
M P Vaughan b Butler 0
15 min, 5 balls
M A Butcher not out 22
52 min, 35 balls, 2 fours
*N Hussain not out 6
14 min, 10 balls
Extras (lb1, nb1) 2
Total (for 2, 68 min, 15.3 overs) 63
Fall: 1-11 (Vaughan), 2-50 (Trescothick).
Bowling: Drum 4-0-16-0, Butler 7.3-0-38-2 (nb1), Cairns 4-0-8-0 (one spell each).
Progress: Second day: 50: 52 min, 11.3 overs. Bad light stopped play 5.08-5.47pm at 50-2 (Butcher 15, Hussain 0) 11.5 overs. BLSP 6.01pm close.
Umpires: B F Bowden and E A R de Silva. TV replay umpire: D M Quested. Match referee: J L Hendriks.Reuse content