After their abject humiliation in the first Test, England had to make changes. The surprise is not the axing of Steve Harmison, who has much to do if he is to play another Test. It is the decision to drop Matthew Hoggard, who has proved his great skill and heart since last being dropped, in December 2003.
Some see this as simply absurd. Harmison is being dropped for three bad years; Hoggard, seemingly, for one bad game. However, such thinking is a gross exaggeration. For Hoggard, who once played 40 consecutive Tests, has recently been injured with alarming regularity. Moreover, his performances are not what they once were. He was wayward in the extreme in the first Test, and may have lost that imperceptible attribute - 'nip' - which is so crucial at Test level.
In his last 12 Tests, stretching back to July 2006, Hoggard has taken 31 wickets at an average of 41. While dropping him appears harsh, the problem is more with who is replacing him - James Anderson, fresh from a mauling in the ODI series and 2-95 for Auckland, and averaging 40 after 20 Tests. A better replacement would have been Charlie Shreck, who is faring excellently for Wellington and, unlike both Anderson and Hoggard, is on fine form and has been bowling plenty of first-class overs of late.
At 31, Hoggard may not have much international cricket left, but, with the goodwill he has earned from a career of relentless dedication, English fans will be willing him on to get back to his best and prove a Test force once more. With Harmison, alas, it seems everyone has long since given up.