MATTHEW HOGGARD laid down an immediate marker for an England return next month with all five wickets for Yorkshire against Hampshire.
Hoggard, 31, finished the second day of the LV County Championship contest at Headingley with figures of 15-1-51-5 as the visitors struggled towards their target of 249 to avoid the follow-on.
Hampshire were set to resume today on 115-5 after Hoggard claimed his best first-class return on English soil for 11 months, a timely reminder to the national selectors.
The first Test against New Zealand begins at Lord’s three weeks today and he shook off the effects of a stiff neck, which put his participation in jeopardy, to produce something like his best.
“As his spell went on he looked better and better,” said Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon.
“He bowled beautifully after tea in particular, so hopefully he is back to what he is capable of.”
Hoggard, sixth in England’s Test wicket-taker’s list with 248, was surprisingly axed after defeat in Hamilton last month after having, by his own admission, one bad game.
Talk has been that he has lost his nip over the winter, following a year of injury niggles.
But Moxon countered: “It is all about him getting his rhythm. When everything is going in the right place, his feet and arms are working together in the right areas, he hasn’t lost any of his pace.
“When you are slightly out of kilter that is when you lose your pace and direction.”
Hoggard bagged two five-wicket hauls at Headingley at the start of the 2007 summer and Yorkshire are hoping for more of the same.
“He was brilliant for us at the start of the season last year,” said Moxon.
“He got something like 17 wickets in four matches, so I hope he’s not playing for us for long, to be honest, because that means he’s bowling well and is back in the England team.”