Brad Hogg: cricket’s Energizer bunny soldiers on

Date: February 14, 2014 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

Brad Hogg is on track to become the oldest man to play a Twenty20 international after being named yesterday in Australia’s 15-man squad for the ICC World T20 in Bangladesh next month.

It has been a big week for the left-arm Chinaman and googly bowler.

Last Thursday he turned 43, the following day he won the man-of-the-match award in the BBL final, picking up 2-17 from his four overs to help guide the Scorchers to their first title, beating the Hurricanes by 39 runs.

Hogg last played for Australia when he was chosen to play at the last World T20 in Sri Lanka in 2012.

Should Hogg play in Australia’s first match of this year’s tournament – against Pakistan on 23 March at Mirpur – he will be 43 years, 45 days old.

The previous oldest player to roll out in a T20 international was Kenya’s Steve Tikolo, who at 42, took on Canada at Sharjah in November last year.

Whenever Hogg plays his first match in Bangladesh he will become the oldest player to represent Australia in an international match since Clarrie Grimmett played his last Test in February 1936.

He will become the sixth oldest player to represent Australia in its 137-year international history.

There has to be something about the given name ‘Brad’ that the Australian selectors liked when they sat down to choose the squad as both Hodge (39) and Haddin (36) are also in the 15.

Who said T20 cricket was for the youngsters?

George Bradley Hogg’s story is a fascinating one.

Raised on a farm outside the town of Williams in the Western Australia’s south-west Wheatbelt he made his first-class debut for WA in 1993-94.

When he first entered Sheffield Shield ranks he did so as a left-handed middle order batsman.

It was not long though before he was rolling out his left-arm wrist spinners.

He first represented his country in August 1996 at a four-nations one-day tournament in Sri Lanka while Shane Warne was sidelined with injury.

Two months later, with Warne still sidelined, he was awarded his baggy green for the one-off Test against India at Delhi where he scored 1 and 4 and returned figures of 1-69 from 17 overs.

With Warne fit for the Australian summer Hogg found himself back in Shield ranks.

At times over the next few seasons he struggled to maintain his place in the Western Warriors line-up.

For a long period a return to international ranks seemed a long way off, if nigh impossible.

Yet there he was back in the fold again in December 2002 when he was chosen for the ODI side with Warne again on the sidelines, recovering from a serious shoulder injury.

He played out that summer in the tri-series against England and Sri Lanka and performed well enough to be included in the squad for the ODI World Cup in South Africa in February 2003.

He was initially chosen as a support act to Warne, who had recovered from his injury.

However, on the eve of the tournament Warne was suspended for using a banned substance and was subsequently put out of the sport for 12 months.

It was Hogg’s big break and he grabbed it with both hands.

He played in ten of Australia’s 11 matches – including the triumphant final against India at Johannesburg – picking up 13 wickets at 24.8.

From seemingly nowhere a few months earlier he had become a World Cup winner.

Off the back of his success at the World Cup and with Warne out of the equation he returned to the Test side, playing two matches in the Caribbean and one at the SCG in October 2003 against Zimbabwe.

He was a reasonably regular member of the ODI team for the five years following the World Cup win in South Africa, including winning another World Cup title in the West Indies in April 2007.

He made the last of his 123 ODI appearances at the SCG in March 2008 after which he announced his retirement.

He finished with 156 scalps – he is still ninth overall for Australia for ODI wickets – at 26.8 and best figures of 5-32.

His Test carer totalled seven matches with the last against India at the SCG in January 2008.

At the age of 37 it was time to give way to the next generation.

Or was it?

In November 2011 he was back, this time as a Perth Scorcher in the inaugural season of the BBL, capturing 12 wickets at 13.5.

It was not long before he became a cult hero to the Scorchers’ crowd at the WACA Ground – aka ‘The Furnace’ at BBL time.

His effervescence in the field, his ripping googlies delivered with the customary poke of the tongue and the madcap celebrations upon capturing a wicket endeared him to the masses.

The chant of ‘Hoggie, Hoggie’ when he is introduced into the attack at the WACA is reminiscent of the reception Dennis Lillee received over 30 years ago.

Many a player over his three seasons in the BBL have been bamboozled by his variations.

On 1 February 2012 he was back in Australian colours for the T20 international against India at the Sydney Olympic Stadium en route to the World T20 later that year.

Hogg’s performances in the BBL have earned him stints in the IPL and the Bangladesh Premier League – the latter meaning he will have some inside knowledge heading to this year’s World T20.

In these days of the heavily stereotyped elite sportsperson Brad Hogg is a refreshing presence.

He approaches each match with a youthful exuberance and enthusiasm, something not normally associated with a 43-year-old.

Although, playing representative T20 cricket at that age is unique.

And so too is G B Hogg.

Long may he continue to poke his tongue at both the opposition and the game in general.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 13 February 2014

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