Hoggy backing England
Injured seamer Matthew Hoggard is expecting England to claim a series-levelling win at the Oval.
By Graeme Mair
Last Updated: 09/08/07 12:49pm
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Injured fast bowler Matthew Hoggard is backing England to keep their six-year unbeaten home record intact by winning the final Test against India.
Hoggard, who is currently sidelined by a back injury, feels the Oval wicket will suit the home bowling attack in their efforts to square the series 1-1.
Monty Panesar's left-arm spin and the potential of the faster bowlers to generate reverse swing are factors that Hoggard highlighted as crucial if England are to take 20 wickets at a ground that has a batsman-friendly reputation.
"I'll be keeping an eye on the Test although I'm not the best watcher," he told skysports.com.
"We (Yorkshire) played there earlier in the season, it was pretty flat although there was a bit of bounce and it turned as the game progressed.
"Monty will be an important factor, but I think reverse swing will also play a part."
England have been forced to look outside their centrally contracted fast bowlers this season due to injuries to Hoggard and Steve Harmison.
That has given the opportunity for Ryan Sidebottom to make a big impact after being plucked from county obscurity, while James Anderson and Chris Tremlett have also impressed against India.
Hoggard welcomes the competition for places as 'good for English cricket' but is confident he remains part of the best XI when everyone is fit.
"It's good for English cricket to have competition for places," he added.
"You have to back your ability - I think I'm worth a place in the side when everyone is fit."
Hoggard was forced to withdraw from the first Test against India due to a back spasm and has not played since - he admits it is a problem that is proving difficult to overcome.
The nature of the injury means the Yorkshireman could not set a date for his return, although did confirm that he will not be playing in the Roses match against Lancashire, starting on Thursday.
"There is nothing that can be done other than to rest, I am just sitting around getting bored," he said.
"I have been bowling in the nets absolutely fine, but just can't be sure that I can make it through for three or four days in a row."
Asked if he would play again this season, he added: "I definitely hope so."
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