Wednesday, 12 March 2008

England axe Harmison and Hoggard

Jimmy Anderson and debutante Stuart Broad will be playing in Wellington after Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard were dropped. Harmison's axing comes as little surprise after he was so listless in Hamilton, but Hoggard's dismissal is a bit of a shock.

Clearly England are hoping that Anderson (25) and Broad (21) will inject some youthful energy and enthusiasm into the team. Broad is seen as a potential all-rounder (he already has 4 first-class 50s to his name), so his presence will also reduce the lengthy English tail.

Although both Broad and Anderson are decent bowlers, I have to admit to being a little relieved. Hoggard was much improved in the second innings at Hamilton and could have been a real handful at the Basin. The ball seems to swing more in Wellington than it does anywhere else in New Zealand, and swing bowlers do prosper. Just ask Simon Doull. Meanwhile while Wellington probably wouldn't have suited Harmison, he could well have been lethal on the rock hard deck at Napier. A couple of reports have said that Harmison put in a fast spell in the English nets this morning, so his mojo might be on the way back.

The weather seems to be on everyone's minds, and I agree that it will have a part to play. Today has been warm and dry, and that is meant to continue for the first few days. Hopefully that will mean the pitch will behave a little more than it has in the past.

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