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Last Updated: Monday, 13 November 2006, 09:41 GMT
Hoggard savours Australia return
By Alex Trickett

Matthew Hoggard
2002/03 series: 3 Tests, 6 wickets, average 62.50
2005 series: 5 Tests, 16 wickets, average 29.56
England pace bowler Matthew Hoggard has vowed to shrug off the bad memories of his previous tour of Australia as he returns for the 2006 Ashes series.

Hoggard struggled in 2002-03, coming under fire from Matthew Hayden in the first Test at Brisbane.

But he was a key part of England's attack in 2005, as England won 2-1.

"Four years ago is a long time ago, especially in my career. It's going to be different. I'm a lot better bowler than I was," Hoggard told BBC Sport.

"We've got a lot better team spirit and have an Ashes victory under our belts, so we're not going with mental scars.

"I think it's going to be a very hard tour and evenly matched."

Night-watchman is an interesting job - it keeps you occupied at the end of the day when everyone else is falling asleep

Matthew Hoggard

Hoggard admits the hosts have still got their visitors guessing when it comes to pitch conditions at the five Test venues.

And the 29-year-old believes that traditional truths - such as Perth having the fastest wicket around - may not stand up this time around.

"Perth has got the big reputation of being a swinger's ground, but I've heard that Brisbane is perhaps the quickest and bounciest pitch in Australia at the moment," he said.

"It will be interesting to see what sort of wickets they prepare. But we'll be ready for whatever we come across.

"We'll rock up to every venue and determine what the wicket is going to do and then pick the side accordingly."

The Dukes ball was used in the 2005 Ashes series
The Kookaburra ball is softer than the Dukes, which has a more pronounced seam
The Dukes ball tends to reverse swing earlier than the Kookaburra

The Kookaburra ball, which will replace the Dukes ball used in England and has a tendency to swing early on, holds no fear for Hoggard.

And neither does the role of "night-watchman", which Hoggard has been filling with his bat for the past few years.

606 DEBATE: How will Hoggard fare in Australia?

"Night-watchman is an interesting job to have - it keeps you occupied at the end of the day when everyone else is falling asleep," Hoggard said.

"It gives you an extra role to fill for the team and I enjoy it.

"It's always nice when I don't have to go in. But when you go in, it's a challenge, which I like. It's between you and the bowlers when they're fresh."





England in Australia 2006/07
15 Dec 05 |  Future tour dates
Ashes venues guide
11 Oct 06 |  The Ashes
BBC TV Ashes coverage
27 Oct 06 |  The Ashes


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