Tag: Matthew Hoggard

Do you remember Matthew Hoggard the Test cricketer? Do you ACTUALLY REMEMBER?

Matthew Hoggard completely having it with that there bowling like

Have you ever been at a funeral where they’ve skipped through the first 80 years of the person’s life before really dwelling on recent history? Half a century of adult life is summed up by counting progeny and then all the eulogy goes on about is how you liked a pint of mild and a game of dominoes.

People can struggle to think of a person in terms of anything other than what happened most recently. Perhaps that’s the way people are conditioned to think about life – like it’s one long progression. From this point of view, you’ve really cracked it near the end. Everything’s fallen into place.

Just to confirm, Matthew Hoggard’s not dead

We get a slight sense of this when reading about Matthew Hoggard now that he’s announced that he will retire at the end of the season. Sporting life moves on frighteningly quickly and even those of us for whom he was such a vital figure may struggle to muster fitting emotions. It’s not like he’s dead. It’s not like he’s even retired yet. He’s still there at Leicestershire, a sort of wishy-washy copy of an outstanding opening bowler with whom we are very familiar; a dilute methadone for an addiction we no longer have.

But this is to miss the point. Sport is primarily about the present with the future a secondary concern, but it’s also worth looking back on the past from time to time to keep yourself honest when you look at what’s happening now.

We are absolutely not going to use the word ‘yeoman’

Even though we just did and even though the word will provide the framework for what we’re about to say.

The perception of Matthew Hoggard was always of a toiler; the kind of cricketer who made the most of his talent (like that’s a crime, rather than part of the job). This always grated with us, even if Hoggard himself tended to play up to it, saying he just whanged the ball down.

That kind of assessment devalues not just Hoggard, but the complexities of cricket itself. He may have bowled about 10mph slower than Andrew Flintoff and Steve Harmison, but he took more Test wickets at a lower average and with a better strike rate. In fact, in the very earliest days of our cricket writing, we did a short piece about how he was actually a strike bowler.

How did Matthew Hoggard take his wickets?

It wasn’t just by whanging it. It was by whanging it in an obscenely skilful manner. As a conventional English swing bowler, he was a kind of proto-Anderson, but he also developed cutters and reverse swing so that he could take wickets basically anywhere. 6-57 in Nagpur, 7-63 in Christchurch and 7-61 in Johannesburg.

We also wonder whether his achievements have been partly devalued by the fact that he played his cricket in an era when terrible flat pitches were infuriatingly common. His average was forever being compared to those of the previous generation, but now we’ve all kind of come to terms with the fact that a bowling average of around 30 is actually pretty handy (even considering that pitch quality has since improved a bit).

So is that how he should be remembered?

As a hugely skilful bowler who was a vital component in the best England side seen in decades? Yeah, partly, but you need to tack onto that the fact that he had a great attitude.

An example is his batting, which was really bloody ordinary even at the point at which he retired from Test cricket. However, it took extraordinary effort for him to improve it to ‘really bloody ordinary’ and it takes a special kind of character to put in the hours with such minimal obvious reward.

Vindication came with a jarringly dreamy cover drive as England stuttered towards a win in the 2005 Trent Bridge Test. That moment summed him up for us. Without knowing the background, it was just a tail-ender hitting a four. But if you’d followed his career and the painfully slow development of his batting, you’d see it as the low key culmination of something special.


What is Matthew Hoggard?

Matthew Hoggard feeling a bit hacked offMatthew Hoggard has been released by Yorkshire. He was offered a contract at the start of the season and it sounds to us like he weighed it up for a bit too long.

Hoggard’s understandably pissed off about this, because after 15 years at Yorkshire, he hasn’t had a chance for a proper send-off from the supporters. This mirrors the situation when he lost his England place. England dropped him midway through a tour of New Zealand allowing him to spend the next couple of weeks feeling as much use as the word ‘backwards’ in the phrase ‘reverse backwards’.

Matthew Hoggard can go from seeming to be of crucial importance to being unwanted and out of place in a spectacularly short space of time. What is Matthew Hoggard?

Is he a pog? Is he Friends Reunited? Is he a shellsuit?


Matthew Hoggard hatches fiendish plot to get back into the England team

He’s going to distract one of the Test team while they’re driving, causing them to have a car accident.

“I need to keep knocking on the door because they’re in the driving seat at the moment.”

We never thought he’d stoop so low.


Matthew Hoggard does the unthinkable

We're sticking with the beer picture for our MatthewMatthew Hoggard smashed someone’s box!

That really doesn’t bear thinking about. What are the chances that the delivery was precisely quick enough to smash a box but not quick enough to do any further harm? The chances of that are nil.

Thankfully, we haven’t actually seen this. The BBC say that he ‘shattered’ Michael Carberry’s box. Surely these things shouldn’t shatter under any amount of impact. They should be made out of the same stuff they make tanks out of.

That word again: ‘shattered’. Conjures images of hundreds of spiky shards, doesn’t it? No wonder Hampshire’s first six wickets fell to The Yeoman. Everyone was bricking it.


Less tweediness from Strauss’s team mates

Remember how Andrew Strauss was going to GET THE JOB DONE? Ceci sent more pictures, saying:

“Squire Hoggard and the chav Vaughan. KP however will always be an alien life form to me. I’d like to say the rough edges are there as an ironic statement, but of course I would be a big fat liar.”

Rural

This one we can take, even if the dog on the left is a bit… visible.

It's just so... smooth...

This is harder to take. Don’t look at the weirdly taut groin, whatever you do.

Would stand up to scrutiny in a court of law
And this one – we don’t know what to say about this one.

You people know that graphic designers read this site, don’t you? Imagine how they feel being so comprehensively outshone.


Matthew Hoggard dropped

The Hoggster puts his back into trainingThis is a bit of a weird one. What do you make of this?

In a climate where senior players are being unjustifiably indulged, Matthew Hoggard’s had a bad game and he’s out on his ear.

The long, slow descent towards Harmison’s dropping now seems unnecessarily cruel in its inevitability, but he was still given those chances to prove his worth. Andrew Strauss kept his place for an extraordinary amount of time in the face of poor form and certainly hasn’t earned a recall. He paid the selectors back with 45 runs over two innings in the first Test.

Hoggard did have a poor game and he didn’t look wholly himself. He put the new ball on the spot, but he was sluggish. But consider this. Two matches prior to that, he took 4-29 to reduce Sri Lanka to 42-5 at Kandy and for years he’s been England’s most reliable bowler. Has everyone got short memories when it comes to the Yorkshireman or is it something else?

We can think of a couple of possible reasons – none too convincing.

(1) The selectors don’t think he prepared adequately for this tour and this is a robust slap on the wrists.

(2) They genuinely think that Hoggard’s had it; that the drop in his bowling speed is as a result of his injuries and age and therefore irreversible.

(3) Someone had to go and Hoggard was the only player other than Harmison who had an unreservedly bad match. Most of the batsmen had one innings of substance. Just.

Angry or amazed? We’ll have to go with angry on this one.


Like Matthew Hoggard’s never been away

Matthew Hoggard inadvertently glues his fingers togetherMatthey Hoggard says nobody’s a dead cert for the England team. We’d dispute that. Matthew Hoggard’s a dead cert, surely. Today he took four top order wickets for just 29 runs and it’s like he’s never been away.

We’ve missed Matthew Hoggard (he was injured over the summer) and we’ve missed Test cricket as well. Despite England playing on a near-daily basis, this is the first Test match since the start of August.

It’s the way it’s supposed to be. It felt like Christmas this morning, only it was much, much earlier and we didn’t have to drink all day. The ‘rare treat’ feeling will wear off of course by the time the second Test starts a week tomorrow.

That England should bowl out Sri Lanka for 188 after losing the toss was rather unexpected, but that Kumar Sangakkara should put up the sternest resistance was anything but. Having said that, an untroubled 92 was actually rather under par for a batsman who’s been averaging 160 since he gave up the wicketkeeping gloves eight Tests ago.

Sri Lanka v England, first Test at Kandy
Sri Lanka 188 all out (Kumar Sangakkara 92, Prasanna Jayawardene 51, Matthew Hoggard 4-29, Monty Panesar 3-46)
England 49-1


Matthew Hoggard will be in the Test team then

Line 'em up and Hoggy'll knock 'em downIf 240 Test wickets weren’t enough, there’s the fact that Stephen Harmison and James Anderson are both a bit injured to help Hoggy along. And if his 6-57 against India at Nagpur last year – a herculean bowling performance hewn from pure nous – wasn’t proof that he could bowl in subcontinental conditions, he’s taken 5-25 today, reducing the Sri Lanka Cricket Board President’s XI to 75-5 at one point.

What possible reason could you have for not picking Matthew Hoggard though? It’s ridiculous. Even after a period away from Test cricket, he’s surely first pick. He’s England’s most experienced Test bowler and rather surprisingly, he’s also their strike bowler, though no-one’ll admit it.


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