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Shirin Sadikot in Centurion

Missed this pressure, tension during retirement: Hogg

Scorchers’ veteran chinaman talks about his comeback to cricket

There are very few professional cricketers who enjoy their game like Brad Hogg does. A jovial character on and off the field, Hogg’s career has been as interesting as the man himself. After retiring from international cricket in 2008, the chinaman bowler took to commentary. A few stints and three years later, he decided to make a comeback on the cricket field. Wickets at domestic level earned him a USD 180,000 IPL contract with the Rajasthan Royals, and suddenly he was part of Australia’s squad for the 2012 ICC World Twenty20.

Now, Hogg is a vital part of the Perth Scorchers in the 2012 CLT20. Although he ended up on the losing side in the first game of the tournament, against the Titans, Hogg was his usual amicable self during his chat with clt20.com.

After citing failure to take early wickets as the reason for the Scorchers’ 39-run defeat, Hogg spoke with child-like enthusiasm about his comeback from retirement and how he missed the pressure of competition during his three-year hiatus.

The Scorchers pulled things back in the death overs after the Titans’ 109-run opening stand. But was it too late?

When you put the opposition in, you need to get early wickets, which we didn’t and that crucified us in the end. With no wicket on the board and 13 overs to go, you’re really in trouble and paddling upstream. We still restricted them to 163 and we thought we’ll get it but we didn’t.

With the batting line-up that the Scorchers have, that target looked quite achievable

In T20 if your top three players don’t get runs, it gets very difficult. Yes, every now and then someone comes off in the lower order to score some quick runs and we’d have liked Mitchell Marsh to do that. But it didn’t happen. Simon Katich played extremely well, Herschelle Gibbs settled in but got out at a crucial time. In the end the team did okay but not picking early wickets cost us.

Talk about your comeback to cricket. It’s been phenomenal.

I’m really enjoying this. The interesting thing is that sitting in the commentators’ box I thought the game was in a certain position. But after coming back I’ve realised that the talent these guys have got is brilliant. They way they play T20 cricket is unbelievable and full credit for the way they train. Their professionalism is outstanding. Hopefully, when I return to the commentary box, I’ll be able to emphasise on how good their level of skills is. They’re worth every penny.

How was it when you played for Australia again?

When I first came back, I didn’t feel any pressure but getting picked for Australia for the World Twenty20, that pressure and that nervousness is something that I really missed throughout my retirement. It was just great to be out in the field. I remember during the World T20 – I don’t know if this is the right place to say this – but Justin Langer, Australia’s bowling coach and myself were in the urinals and I turned back to him and told him, “You know, I really missed this tension that you feel five minutes before going on the field”.

What keeps you going through the ups and downs?

I have my good and bad games. At the end of the day it’s just about the mental thing. I was telling the younger guys the other day as well that we’ve all got talent and we’ve all done it before. It’s just a matter of backing yourself when you go out there, especially when you’re going through a bad patch. The mentally strong come through these hard times more quickly and that experience makes them perform even better when they come back.

In a T20 match do you bowl to pick wickets or contain runs?

It really depends on the situation. Like today, we were in dire straits and while it’s always nice to get wickets, if I don’t keep it tight, the opposition is getting away from us. So, I’ve got to be mindful of that. I’m selected to pick wickets in those middle overs but today I had to make sure I kept it tight and didn’t let them score any more runs than they did.

Would you say that you’re more suited to limited overs cricket?

Definitely. I had some Test matches before I retired and I’d have liked to continue doing that. But we had Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill at that time in the Test team. I was mainly looked as a 50-over prospect and when one of these spinners weren’t available, I had to step up to play Tests. But I wouldn’t really change anything about my career. We had a fantastic team in the late 1990s and early 2000s. To be able to carve out a long career for Australia in any format is very satisfying. When I look back at my international career, I feel proud to have achieved what I have been able to achieve.

Is wrist spin the tougher form of spin bowling?

It’s probably the hardest art to be consistent in. If you look at Australia’s spin history, it’s the leg-spinners who have been more successful, the reason being they can spin the ball both ways, bowing leg-spin and the wrong ‘un and have also got the back-spinner and flipper. But now the off-spinners too are able to turn it the other way and so they are becoming a bit tougher as well.

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