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Hoggard reflects with fondness

Matthew Hoggard will look back on a fine career when he brings it to an end next week.

The former England seamer, who took 248 wickets in 67 Tests, has announced he will retire at the end of the season.

The 36-year-old is not involved in Leicestershire's ongoing game against Lancashire but is likely to make his final appearance as they end their campaign by hosting Hampshire in a four-day match from next Tuesday.

That would be a 239th first-class appearance of a career which began at his home county Yorkshire in 1996.

Hoggard told Press Association Sport: "There are so many highlights. It would be wrong to pick out one or two. It has been a fantastic journey and one that I will look forward to reminiscing over.

"Playing for England for eight years, you are going to have lots of fond memories.

"It's a great time to look back and say this is what I have done. I haven't really done that yet.

"I look forward to becoming twice the player I was. Everyone gets better when they retire!"

Hoggard made his Test debut against West Indies in 2000 and his international career spanned eight years, incorporating the memorable Ashes series win of 2005.

Hoggard, whose principal weapon is swing, took 16 wickets as England famously beat Australia in a Test series for the first time in 18 years.

He said: "It was a great time. The series itself, with all the ebbs and flows and twists, was a great one to be involved in.

"It was one of the best series that has been played apparently. It was great to play a part in beating a very strong Australia side and bringing the Ashes back to England.

"It rejuvenated the country's love of the game. I think we have gone from strength to strength since."

Hoggard won the County Championship with Yorkshire in 2001 and 10 years later captained Leicestershire to domestic Twenty20 success.

He also played 26 one-day internationals and other notable career highlights included a hat-trick against the Windies at Barbados in 2004.

He said: "Calling it quits is always a difficult choice to make but it is also a relief that it is out there.

"I've come to the decision it is the right time to go. The body is beginning to hurt a lot more than it used to.

"Bowling doesn't get any easier, and the body is not getting any younger. I think it is fair on everybody to go.

"I've just got four days of cricket left against Hampshire. Tuesday to Friday next week then it's party time! But it will also be sad. I'm sure there will be a few tears at some point."

Hoggard has given away few clues as to his next move.

He said: "There are jigsaw pieces about. I just need to make the pieces fit and we come out with a pretty picture."

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