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Sidebottom backs seam duo

Flintoff return could be a major boost, according to left-arm seamer

Hoggard: Backed by Sidebottom

Ryan Sidebottom insists Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard are still great bowlers despite slipping down the pecking order with England.

"They've (Harmison and Hoggard) not become bad bowlers overnight. They are both great bowlers and will be pushing hard to play the first Test at Lord's."

Ryan Sidebottom

Quotes of the week

The duo were both dropped after the first Test against New Zealand during the winter and watched on as the tourists battled back from 1-0 down to win the series.

Left-armer Sidebottom led a new-look seam attack, taking 24 wickets in the three matches against the Black Caps to be named man of the series.

However, the Nottinghamshire bowler reckons both Harmison and Hoggard will be eager to get back to their best and return to the international scene this summer.

Pushing hard

"They are both fantastic bowlers," Sidebottom said. "But you do have days when you don't bowl well.

"I am sure they will be working hard on their games and they are always going to be around the team because they are both great bowlers.

"Sometimes batters can just smack you around and you've no answer to it, that's the way it goes.

"They've not become bad bowlers overnight. They are both great bowlers and will be pushing hard to play the first Test at Lord's."

The selectors could also have the option of picking Andrew Flintoff in the first npower Test against the Kiwis at Lord's on May 15.

After a fourth operation on his troublesome ankle during the winter, the 30-year-old is making good progress in his comeback with Lancashire.

He sent down 28 overs in the LV County Championship clash with Surrey last week and then made a quick-fire 23 with the bat.

Great player

Sidebottom admits having the all-round talents of Flintoff available would be a major boost for England in both forms of the game.

"Everyone has talked about Freddie and he's a great player," he said. "It's great just to see him back playing.

"He'll be working hard on his game. I'm sure he's loking forward to coming back playing, it's been a long time for him.

"To have him in any dressing room is great for any side."