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Saturday, 13 October, 2001, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
England high on the Hog
The tour of Zimbabwe has enhanced Matthew Hoggard's reputation. BBC Sport Online's Thrasy Petropoulos profiles the England fast bowler.
Nasser Hussain could hardly contain his enthusiasm when he wrote about Matthew Hoggard in his tour diary from Zimbabwe.
"I thought Hoggard set the tone beautifully, producing outswingers and cutters, taking the pace off the ball and bowling like Darren Gough and Craig White," he said.
Like Gough and White?
If England's latest fast bowling find enjoys India and New Zealand as much as he has Zimbabwe, it may be Gough and White who will end up being compared to Hoggard.
With Gough absent for the entire winter, and White and Andrew Caddick rested before the major tours, the burden of carrying England's bowling attack was placed squarely on Hoggard's 24-year-old shoulders.
Would he bask in the limelight or wilt under the pressure?
Figures of two for 25, three for 37 and five for 49 in three matches at the Harare Sports Club, all of them won by England, tell their own story.
It is hard to believe that before this tour Hoggard had never before played a one-day international.
Until now Hoggard's experiences of international cricket have been of the supporting role rather than the spearhead.
His first Test was perhaps the most exciting ever played at Lord's with England beating the West Indies by two wickets in 1999.
Hoggard failed to take a wicket and he ended the game sitting nervously on the dressing-room balcony in pads, gloves, helmet and with bat in hand as Dominic Cork and Darren Gough edged England home with a ninth-wicket partnership of 31.
Even when he tasted success, it was more sideshow than spectacle.
In two tour matches in Pakistan last year, Hoggard took 18 wickets but still he could not force his way into the Test side, and it was a similar story in Sri Lanka.
And when his second bite of the Test-match cherry came along last summer, figures of three for 79 and three for 93 at Old Trafford, including Inzamam-ul-Haq in each innings, were off-set by a Pakistan victory.
A foot injury then ruled him out of the Ashes series that followed.
But in Zimbabwe, Hoggard has had the stage to himself and the Pudsey-born fast bowler has responded with previously unseen maturity.
With the new ball, he has bowled with pace and aggression, and importantly he twice came back well from a wayward first few overs to tie batsmen down.
And in later spells, he has shown himself able to vary his pace and, as Hussain enthused, be unafraid to throw in the odd cutter.
To take 10 wickets in your first three one-day internationals is impressive enough, but consider, too, that eight of those were top-five batsmen, five of them openers.
It took Hoggard just 14 balls to open his account as Alistair Campbell aimed an optimistic swipe at a ball that hit off stump, followed soon after by a wicket courtesy of a brilliant catch on the midwicket boundary by Jeremy Snape to remove Guy Whittall.
If that sounds as a tad fortunate, then figures of 10-2-25-2 speak of sustained controlled that more than justified whatever luck came his way.
The next two matches, played over a weekend at the Harare Sports Club, were more impressive still, with Hoggard improving on man-of-the-match figures in the first by becoming only the eighth England bowler to claim five wickets in a one-day international in the second.
In taking five for 49 in 10 overs he helped limit Zimbabwe to 261-8 despite Andy Flower's 142 not out, but it was Flower's dismissal by Hoggard the day before the really stuck in the mind.
Having already sent back Guy Whittall in his fourth over, Hoggard struck again two overs later when the only world class batsman in the Zimbabwe side was comprehensively bowled by a leg-stump yorker.
Leg stump yorkers? Sound familiar?
Perhaps Hussain is right: more and more, Hoggard is resembling Darren Gough.
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