Brad Hogg: 17 interesting facts about the evergreen tweaker

George Bradley Hogg, born on February 6, 1971, is an Australian cricketer who bowls slow left-arm chinaman bowler. Even at age 47, he continues to enthrall fans. After the exit of Shane Warne from One-Day Internationals, Hogg became crucial to Australia s plans.

Suvajit Mustafi lists out 15 interesting facts about the two time World Cup winning cricketer.

1. Early life Farm, university and batting: Hogg spent his childhood in a sheep farm in Williams, Western Australia. He later completed his Bachelors of Commerce with majors in Accounting and Marketing from Curtin University. Hogg made his debut for Western Australia (WA) as a middle-order batsman. But that almost didn t happen.

For years, he toiled in grade cricket and eventually considered moving back to the farm in Williams before he got called-up for Shield debut. In an interview with Daily Telegraph, Hogg said, Just before then I was about to go back to the farm. I had sort of made an agreement with the old man that if I hadn t made state cricket by Christmas that year I d come back. I think I would have been happy on the farm and I felt that I had given cricket a good shot. But knowing now the time I’ve had playing club cricket, playing for my state and playing for Australia, I wouldn’t change a thing.

2. Earliest cricket memories: As a six-year-old, Hogg watched a match between India and Australian Country XI in 1977. His father, Greg played in that game and he entered the dressing room during the lunch interval. In an interview with The Hindu, Hogg recalled his earliest cricket memories: During the lunch break I entered the Indian change room and I cannot forget the experience. I distinctly remember Bishan Bedi because of his colourful turban. You know, that was when I made up my mind about wearing the baggy green. It fired me up.

3. A skill he took up pretty late, but mastered it: Thanks to former Test and WA leg-spinner Tony Mann who suggested him to bowl wrist spin and showed him a few tricks. During a net session when he beat the outside edge of Damien Martyn, Hogg decided that he would add spin to his kitty and it was in his third season (1995-96) when he began bowling regularly.

4. International debut: Australia had one quality spinner in Warne and they needed a back-up. Hogg made his One-Day International (ODI) debut in August 1996 in Sri Lanka and impressed with one for 26 from his nine overs against Zimbabwe. Though he made it to the team as an all-rounder, it was for his bowling he was known.

5. Test debut: Later that year, he made his Test debut against India in the first-ever match of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. He picked up only one wicket in the game of Sourav Ganguly, who was playing his third Test and looked set to score another ton in order to replicate Mohammed Azharuddin s feat. Hogg denied that and continued troubling the Indian batsman whenever they met later.

6. Tormenting Ganguly: In a Test career spanning over 11 years, Hogg only played seven Tests and out of which four were against India. Over the years, left-arm spinners had been severely dealt with by Ganguly, who found himself at ease against this category of bowlers. However Hogg enjoyed the challenge and got the batsman out five times in the seven Tests he played against him.

7. The comeback: After his first Test, Hogg was forgotten and Stuart MacGill established himself as the number two spinner. Hogg s tireless pursuit in the domestic circuit was rewarded in the 2002-03 season. He got a call-up for the tri-series in Australia, followed by a selection to World Cup. In the tri-series, he showed his skills with the ball. He was a much-improved bowler and he won Australia the second final with the bat, scoring an unbeaten 71.

8. Taking over from the wizard: Hogg was the second spinner in the 2003 World Cup squad and with Warne there, it was certain that Hogg was just a tourist to South Africa. After Warne was banned for testing positive for a banned substance, Hogg had to fill into his big boots. He did rise to the occasion and picked up 13 wickets in the tournament as Australia went on to win the World Cup. With Warne not playing ODIs anymore, Hogg took over as the main spinner for Australia in this format.

9. Another World Cup triumph: By 2007, Hogg was critical to Australia s title defence. Leading to the World Cup, they weren t really winning games but once they entered the competition, they remained unbeaten. Hogg played a key role in Australia s triumph as he picked up 21 wickets from 11 matches, with an impeccable average of 15.8 and an economy rate of four, which was even better than the likes of Glenn McGrath and Muttiah Muralitharan.

10. Fruity practice methods: In 2014, during the Twenty20 World Championship, Hogg revealed one of his practice methods that was passed on from Pakistani leg-spinner Abdul Qadir. Hogg said, I once had a session with Abdul Qadir in Sri Lanka and we were sitting in his hotel room. He said that to go through all your spin variations you don t need to go to the nets. You just get an orange or an apple and go through the range of deliveries that a leg-spinner can bowl. That s how I get my wrist to work. I throw some fruit around in my hotel room and practice my leggies, toppies, flippers and wrong-uns.

11. The postman, who continues to deliver! Hogg started his work life as a postman and once in an interview recalled being chased by angry dogs in the streets of Perth. I used to store the mail in a carrier bag on the back of my motorbike and there was one particular dog who used to chase me everywhere. I couldn t get rid of him. So then I just used to let him hang on and he dragged along on the back of my bike.

In fact, parallel to his cricket career, Hogg has had jobs as varied as working on the farm, as a groundsman, a postman and a business development manager. Once a postman, he continues to deliver for whichever team he plays for.

12. Brush with controversy: Hogg s a happy-go-lucky and a loved cricketer but during the infamous 2008 Sydney Test, it was alleged that he had abused the Indian captain Anil Kumble and his deputy MS Dhoni. Hogg was charged with Level Three offence under ICC s Code of conduct. However, BCCI dropped the charges on him.

13. Tendulkar s message to Hogg: In an ODI in Hyderabad in 2007, Hogg dismissed Sachin Tendulkar after which he gave a photograph of the dismissal to be signed by the batsman. Hogg recalled that, I got him out in one of the games, and there was a photo of it I asked him to sign for me. He did it and wrote me a message. Underneath his signature, he wrote, This will never happen again, Hoggy.

14. Most prized wickets: Hogg was recently asked about the most memorable dismissals of his. He responded, The back-spinner to Tendulkar, bowling (Brian) Lara round his legs with a flipper and getting Andy Flower out with a flipper.

15. Refusing to age: Hogg announced his retirement from international cricket in 2008, but made a comeback for Perth Scorchers in December 2011 for the inaugural edition of the Big Bash League (BBL). At 41, he was among the best bowlers in the tournament. In 2012, Hogg returned to international cricket in T20 cricket and performed brilliantly. In 2014, he was the man-of-the-match in the BBL final helping Scorchers lift the trophy. This earned him a recall to the Australian T20I team for the series in South Africa and the 2014 World T20 Championship. On March 12, 2014, he became the oldest player to play in T20I s, at 43 years and 34 days.

Scorchers won the BBL again in 2015 and once again Hogg played a crucial role. In 2016, he played BBL for Melbourne Renegades. For the 2015 IPL, Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) signed him.

16. Autobiography: In 2016, Hogg released his autobiography, “The Wrong ‘Un”. He revealed a lot of anecdotes from the dressing room. He however mentioned that he struggled to get along Matthew Hayden.

In one of the parts, he wrote, One player I struggled to get on with was Matthew Hayden. I admired Matthew but I don t think he rated me as a cricketer. The first sign I had to be careful around Matthew was in 2003 when I was 12th man for a Test at the SCG. I decided to give our openers, [Justin] Langer and Hayden, some encouragement. I was going on to Justin about how we had to stick it to the Poms. Then I did the same with Hayden. He just looked at me before telling me to shut up and leave him alone.

17. Considered suicide: In the chapter titled The Collapse, in his autobiography, Hogg stated that marital problems were the reason behind his retirement from cricket at the end of 2007-08 summer. He cited ‘broken marriage’, ‘mundane work life’ and ‘anger’ of walking away from cricket as reasons for his depression.

I parked my car at Port Beach and went for a walk. I d stare at the sea and think, I could swim out to that groyne, and if I make it back fine. If I don t make it back well, hard luck, he wrote. I was prepared to let fate decide. I was in a really dark place.

He also mentioned: I did that Fremantle drive four times. And each time I thought about doing something really drastic.

It is good that he eventually came out of the depression and continued playing for Australia. He still is a crowd puller, who continues to enthral in franchise-based cricket competitions.

(Suvajit Mustafi consumes cricket for lunch, fiction for dinner and munches numerous other snacks throughout the day. Yes, a jack of several trades, all Suvajit dreamt of was being India s World Cup winning skipper but ended up being a sports writer, author, screenwriter, director, copywriter, graphic designer, sports marketer, strategist, entrepreneur, philosopher and traveller. Donning so many hats, it s cricket which gives him the ultimate high and where he finds solace. He can be followed at @RibsGully and rivu7)