Last week I had the opportunity to ask the legendary Matthew Hoggard some questions. Some were serious and others were, well, not quite so serious. I think you’ll enjoy his answers. Hoggy is currently plying his trade as an after dinner speaker. He’s one of the leading cricket speakers on the circuit. I certainly beats running uphill, into the wind, on a cold day at Headingley.
Hi Matthew. Thanks for giving us the opportunity to pick your brains. You’re a bit of a cult hero at The Full Toss, so some of the questions are as much about you as cricket.
Q: You took 12 wickets at 26.7 in four tests in 2007, yet were dropped after one bad game at the start of 2008. Was the decision (a) rather harsh or (b) bloody harsh?
A: Bloody harsh!
Q. Why do England always seem to drop a bowler when the batsmen fail?
I’d say it’s not just England but cricket across the board where bowlers are expected to be machines. When one or two games don’t go so well, it’s panic stations and usually a bowler gets punished. On a basic level, captains are usually batsmen and don’t understand the hard work that goes into bowling so they’re happier to get rid of bowler ahead of a batsman!
Q. What’s the best sledge you’ve ever heard (don’t worry, we’re not a family site)?
I was never at the crease long enough to get many myself! Probably one of the most memorable exchanges I heard was between Andy Caddick and Herchelle Gibbs. Caddick said “Herchelle, you’ve got more arse than a hippo – you’re blocking the stumps”. Gibbs replied “Can you move your head Caddick, your ears are blocking the sight screen!”
Q. Which opponent irritated you the most?
I’ll go with Justin Langer – he’s got this irritating high-pitched voice and he was a goody two shoes, always following Ricky Ponting around. He was also very good at what he did which didn’t help.
Q. Were you ever genuinely scared when facing a fast bowler?
Never mind fast bowlers, facing anything above 75mph got the adrenaline pumping for me!
Q. You once said you just ‘shut my eyes and wang it’. How true is this, really?
When things are going well, you’re relying on muscle memory so there is some truth in this. I used to sing when I was running up to bowl but I would never shut my eyes. You get more in your head when things aren’t going so well. Obviously you have to work hard to get to the stage when bowling becomes second nature.
Q. The Ashes or The World Cup (what’s more important)?
It’s a tough one but for me it’s the Ashes. I still believe the five day format is the truest test of a team.
Q. What’s the one thing you’d do to improve test cricket?
I’d take out looking at where the ball is pitched in the LBW rule and force the batsmen to play more often!
Q. What’s the one thing you’d do to improve county cricket?
Lessen the number of games – quality rather than quantity.
Q. Do you agree with the proposal to cut the number of teams in div 1 of the county championship to eight?
I do agree and again it’s about quality over quantity. It seems that in other leagues around the world, they have fewer games and more time to prepare properly. The competitions are also split to give them time to practice with a white and red ball. You can’t expect players to be 100% with so many games in a season.
Q. Who was your bunny (when you were bowling)?
I wish I had one! I’ll go with Graeme Smith.
Q. Whose bunny were you (when you were batting)?
Anyone who could bowl straight! Shane Warne used to get me out for fun like he did many players.
Q. Describe your beautiful cover drive off Brett Lee in the famous 2005 Trent Bridge run chase …
I would love to describe it in great detail but I had my eyes shut! In that innings, Brett Lee was either trying to kill me or bowl me Yorkers every other ball and luckily that one was full toss. The Trent Bridge crowd helped out by blowing it over the boundary!
Q. If Jimmy Anderson is the Burnley Lara, can we call you ‘The Pudsey Pietersen’?
Bollocks to it!
Q. What did you do on that infamous night in 2005 after you’d won the Ashes (can you remember)?
Not too sure to be honest – I know I fell out of bed three times.
Q. What’s it like being named after Jonathan Agnew’s dog?
At first I was quite pleased but then he brought it to Trent Bridge and it turned out to be a bloody Pekingnese so I wasn’t so happy after that!
Q. Bitter or Lager?
Q. Curry or Pizza?
Q. If you could invite 5 people (still alive) to a dinner party, who would they be?
David Attenborough, Charlize Theron, Kevin Bridges, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman
Q. If they ever make Hoggy: The Movie, which Hollywood actor should play you?
Rhys Ifans – he’s a bit crazy like me isn’t he?!
Thanks for your time Matthew. Good luck with the after dinner speaking. Take care.