YORKSHIRE’S LV County Championship cricket campaign got off to a flying start with that innings victory over Hampshire.
And the two players who made the biggest contributions at Headingley Carnegie both had a point to prove.
Matthew Hoggard’s best bowling analysis for his county in five years sent out a strong message to the England selectors that their most reliable bowler in recent seasons is a long way off the international scrapheap just yet.
And Andrew Gale’s stirring 138 was exactly the sort of score he wanted to cement his first-team place for several weeks to come and possibly for the whole season.
In 66 Test matches for England, Hoggard has captured 248 wickets to place himself sixth in the list of his country’s leading wicket-takers.
But when both he and Steve Harmison were axed (Harmison deserved it, Hoggard didn’t) following England’s debacle against New Zealand in the first Test in Hamilton a couple of months ago, there was talk that both of their Test careers could be over.
Hoggard, however, had done little wrong other than having one bad match after being the model of consistency.
His England captain and Yorkshire teammate Michael Vaughan said he was “excited” by the new pace pairing of James Anderson and Stuart Broad.
But that enthusiasm on the part of a skipper desperate for some good form himself should not be interpreted as hinting that Hoggard was finished.
Anderson is a quality bowler but not always reliable and Broad, currently in action for his county Nottinghamshire at Leeds, is an outstanding prospect but by no means the finished article.
Hoggard remains a great bowler, particularly in English conditions, and his six for 57 haul against Hampshire must have pushed him right back in the frame for selection in the return series against New Zealand.
National selector Geoff Miller was at the ground while Hoggard picked up several of his wickets and later in the match he and the fast bowler had a long chat.
Miller probably gave him advance information that he and teammate Adil Rashid were to be included in England Lions’ four-day match against New Zealand which starts at the Rose Bowl, Southampton on Thursday.
Hoggard returned match figures of eight for 97 against Hampshire, taking his tally of county wickets to 251, and his first-innings effort was his best for Yorkshire since 2003, when he bagged seven for 49.
Dewsbury-born Gale is still very much on the threshold of his career and he’s probably not had as many Championship chances as he would have liked since making his maiden century with a powerful 149 against Warwickshire at Scarborough in July 2006.