Matthew Hoggard has points to prove to both the selectors and the England batsmen if he makes the starting XI for Thursday's opening Test against New Zealand at Lord's.
Hoggard, the fulcrum of the England pace attack since the turn of the century, was jettisoned along with Steve Harmison when his team unexpectedly lost to the Kiwis in Hamilton this year.
Playing without their two senior bowlers, England turned an embarrassing 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 series win over a side they had expected to defeat easily.
Although there is still no immediate way back for the increasingly disappointing Harmison, Hoggard has been included in the 12 for Thursday's first Test in a three-match series. He will be competing for the final spot with James Anderson, whose Test form tends to veer from the excellent to the awful.
Dropped after what he regards as just one poor bowling performance, Hoggard was in combative mood when he spoke to reporters at Lord's on Monday.
"I hated it, it hurt like hell to be dropped. You can go two ways about it, you can roll over and die or try your hardest to get back in. So I've done the latter," he said.
"I've tried to do everything possible to get back in that side. I'm in the 12 for Thursday and we will see who finally takes the pitch on Thursday morning."
Bowlers of Hoggard's type, who labour hard for their wickets and rely on hard-won expertise rather than blazing pace or extravagant spin, traditionally feel like second-class citizens compared to batsmen.
While freely admitting that he had performed poorly in Hamilton, Hoggard could justifiably point to differing selection criteria for bowlers and batsmen.
"It's always the case isn't it? If you look around batsmen can have five or six bad games and still be there. You need to get 20 wickets to win a Test match so you need all your bowlers firing. Bowlers tend to be treated a little bit more harshly than batters," he said.
"To me it was one game, one innings when I didn't bowl well. After that I thought I was bowling back to my best.
"I've kept training and made sure I'm performing like I know I can. It was a big disappointment, to my eyes it was just one game.
"I'm looking forward to the challenges ahead and I know I've got a big challenge to get back in the side."
Did he expect to take the field on Thursday, where he needs only two wickets to reach the 250 mark? "You better ask the selectors that," Hoggard replied. "I'm just a foot soldier."
(Editing by Miles Evans )