With question marks hanging over the fitness of several England bowlers, Matthew Hoggard should have been an automatic choice for inclusion in this weekend's squad for the first Test against Zimbabwe at Lord's.

But Yorkshire's centrally contracted paceman is a long way short of his best form and he did his cause no good at Northampton yesterday by dropping a return catch and then seeing another chance go begging in his next over as his team came under the cosh.

Hoggard, who began the game with only one championship wicket at a cost of 143 runs, got rid of Northamptonshire opener Mark Powell with the new ball but that was the sum total of his success on another grim day for Yorkshire and he ended up with one for 47, taking his season's figures to two for 190.

Yorkshire received a battering from Northamptonshire's new Australian signing Phil Jaques who had cruised to an unbeaten 183 at the close when Northants were 311 for two and trailing by just 88.

The day began brightly enough for Yorkshire as Richard Dawson and Hoggard moved their last wicket stand to 54 in 21 overs with Dawson finally being bowled by Monte Panesar for 77 when Yorkshire stood on 399, just one run away from a fifth batting bonus point. Dawson struck 14 fours off 119 balls while Hoggard's unbeaten 21 equalled his career-best score for the county.

With two off-spinners in their side in Dawson and Andy Gray, Yorkshire were optimistic that they could exploit the pitch sufficiently to enforce the follow-on but Northants never looked like failing to reach the safety figure of 250.

The two Australian left-handers, skipper Mike Hussey and Jaques, aided by at least four dropped catches, put on 189 together in 52 overs to set a new second-wicket record for the county against Yorkshire, the previous best being 139 between Wayne Larkins and David Steele at Harrogate in 1978.

Hussey is rarely pushed into the shadows by his partner but Jaques stole the limelight on this occasion as he raced to his second consecutive championship century off 137 balls,

slamming 106 in the afternoon session.

Yet Yorkshire would not have been run ragged if they had held their catches and Hoggard put the first down at 44 for one when he failed to cling on to Hussey's low return drive. Hussey was still on 18 in Hoggard's next over when he cut hard and straight to Gary Fellows at point but Yorkshire's best fielder dropped the chest-high chance.

Jaques punished Hoggard whenever he pitched too short and the batsman was untroubled until he had moved on to 108 when Gray had him dropped at slip by Matthew Wood.