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The Hogg Blog

This week Matthew Hoggard talks about Luke Wright's record-breaking century, being ill through a Brian Lara masterclass and the worries of captaincy.

I could only feel sorry for Essex’s bowlers on Friday night.

Luke Wright’s innings of 153 was just incredible and there are times when you come up against a batsman and he’ll have an answer for everything you throw at him.

There are things you can try - the problem is if you’re bowling to Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Brendan McCullum or MS Dhoni on a good day none of them work.

I can remember coming up against Ross Taylor when he was slapping it around the park. We tried to get him to hit it where we wanted him to hit it, so if there was a long boundary we’d try to get him to get him to target that area.

We’d mix things up and vary the pace but nothing worked and we just had to take it.

There are a lot of batsmen who can do that to you now like Chris Gayle and the only consolation for the Essex lads is that they will only have bowled 24 balls each.

I bowled 18 overs during Brian Lara’s world-record innings and I was only on the field for a fraction of the five days.

Ashley Giles had gone down with gastroenteritis so he could not play and I was sat in the dressing room with the same thing. They said we would have to risk me playing, but I was throwing up on the boundary and had to go off after six overs.

Gareth Batty had to bowl 52 overs and he has not thanked either myself or Gilo for it since. He took 2-185 and after that a dodgy bum might have looked like the easier option.

I was lying down in the dressing room for a lot of that innings, but it was a batting masterclass because Lara could score through all 360 degrees. That said, he nicked Steve Harmison when he was on nought and if the umpire had done his job properly it would never have happened!

Durham Jets all-rounder John Hastings confirmed his brute power by pasting Northants Steelbacks for 80 from 26 balls ton win their final Blast game

John Hastings scored at over three-a-ball for Durham in their win at Northants and that illustrates just how the game has changed.

When I started playing limited overs cricket, if the fielding side got the run rate up to six an over they were the favourite, but now if it’s under 10 and you’re batting you think it’s your game.

One example was my last quarter-final for Leicestershire when we played Kent in 2011 and went on to win the final.

I was injured and could not play, so I was commentating and it was such a horrendous, nervous feeling to watch.

Kent made 203 and they thought the game was won, but in our dressing room at the interval the belief our players showed was fantastic and everyone thought we could chase it down.

Normally when you score over 200 someone gets a big hundred, but nobody did for us, everyone kept chipping in and apparently Rob Key was so stressed during a break in play that he had to sneak off for a fag!

I could understand how he felt. I was skipper that season and this year all the quarter-final captains seem to be batsmen (in fact all the others seem to be batsmen as well).

I could say something about the fast bowlers’ union here but the truth is there are loads of things to think about, like who’s going to bowl in the powerplay, who’s got how many overs left and so on.

When I first did it I was always worrying about which bowlers to juggle. I'd agonise over field placings until I got things exactly right.

One time I set what I thought was a fantastic four-five field and waited. And waited. And waited some more. And only then did I realise that I was supposed to be the bowler.

Hoggy's Top Three

1. Luke Wright. He slammed Essex to all parts and there was nothing the Eagles could do about it. It was the greatest domestic T20 innings we've ever seen and will take some beating. Not bad considering he was stuck at the Dartford Tunnel for two hours beforehand.

2. John Hastings. Big John is built like a fridge freezer and gives it one hell of a whack. He came in to bat with the Jets in all sorts of trouble but smashed everything skywards on his way to 80 off 26 balls as Durham ended their season with a win.

3. Ross Whiteley. The Rapids are dark horses for a finals day spot but when Ross Whiteley shows the sort of form he did on Friday night versus the Derbyshire Falcons, they're a handful for anyone. His knock off 84 off 38 balls won the game and booked Worcestershire a quarter-final spot.

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