Oxygen chamber breathes life into Hoggard fitness bid
by AFP

Player:MJ Hoggard, A Flintoff
Event:Pakistan in British Isles 2006

DateLine: 10th July 2006


Matthew Hoggard is to spend time in an oxygen chamber during the next few days as he attempts to get fit to face Pakistan in the first Test at Lord's starting Thursday.


The 29-year-old paceman, an ever-present for England's last 32 Tests, had his run threatened after Yorkshire team-mate Tim Bresnan trod on his hand during the warm-up before Saturday's third day of the four-day clash between England A and Pakistan at Canterbury, a match that ended in a draw.


Right-arm quick Hoggard had to have six stitches inserted into his bowling hand and, after seeing a specialist on Sunday, will use the chamber at a north-west London hospital near Lord's in a bid to speed his recovery.


"He will be using the same oxygen room as Simon Jones used to advance his healing process," England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, told reporters at Canterbury on Sunday.


"He will be inactive for the next couple of days and we will assess him later in the week," Graveney added.


"If we leave it five days it will give the cuts time to improve. I think it would be reasonable to see him bowl in the nets on Wednesday and see what the reaction is, what he can do and what he can't do."


Even if Hoggard does make it, the fact he has sent down just 22 wicketless first-class overs since June 5 is bound to be a worry for England.


Already without star all-rounder Andrew Flintoff (ankle) and Jones (knee), England are set to start the opening match of a four-Test series with just four frontline bowlers, although Graveney said medium-pacer Paul Collingwood was now fit enough to provide seam support.


"He's had treatment all week to his thigh and rib injuries. On three different occasions he has bowled over the past few days with no reaction."


Flintoff marked his return to senior cricket by taking three wickets for four runs in three overs during Lancashire's seven-wicket Twenty20 win over Nottinghamshire at his Old Trafford home ground on Sunday.


But England's selectors have said that their 28-year-old talisman must come through Lancashire's four-day County Championship match away to Kent later this month before they will consider him for the second Test against Pakistan, which starts at Old Trafford on July 27.


And Flintoff himself warned his injury would require constant monitoring.


"The ankle area is weak," he said. "Most bowlers have an area of weakness and it seems this is mine.


"I have to look after it and effectively I will have to keep doing rehabilitation on it for the rest of my career."

(Article: Copyright © 2006 AFP)


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