Hoggard recalls magnificent seven
There were many highlights in Matthew Hoggard’s England career, but one performance is recalled with particular fondness by the seamer.
In January 2005, Hoggard claimed career-best figures of 7-61 as Michael Vaughan’s tourists bowled out South Africa for 247 on the final day in Johannesburg to secure a 77-run victory in the fourth of five Tests.
Although England openers Andrew Strauss and Marcus Trescothick played significant roles by striking 147 and 180 respectively, the then-Yorkshire bowler’s outstanding overall return of 12-205 ensured he walked away with the man of the match award.
Hoggard - now the first-class captain of Leicestershire - understandably reflects on the display with pride and satisfaction, having dreamed of making an impression at the famous Bullring ground during a stint in South Africa as a youngster.
In an exclusive interview with ecb.co.uk, he said: “To get a five-for and a seven-for was very special, especially at a home away from home.
“I played club cricket for Johannesburg Pirates for two years and used to go to the Bullring and watch the Gauteng Lions, or the Transvaal Lions, as they were then.”
Hoggard was in fact working at the venue during the second Test between England and South Africa in 1995, in which the visitors secured a memorable draw.
“I was a barman at the club when Michael Atherton and Jack Russell put on that massive partnership,” he explained.
“To watch the cricket at the Bullring when I was 18, 19, was fantastic and I wanted to play in an arena like that.”
It took time for Hoggard to make his mark in Johannesburg, however.
“I got my chance when I was playing for Free State (in the winter of 1999-2000). I played against Gauteng and didn’t really bowl well on a green seamer,” he added.
“Then I didn’t bowl well in the first innings of the England game. I managed to get five wickets, but I bowled like a drain and I went round the park a little bit.”
“I was thinking it’s one of those grounds that’s going to haunt me. It was a bit like the Headingley of old, so I thought I should have bowled well there as it suited me down to a tee.
“In the second innings I obviously put that right because that was one of the best spells I have bowled.
“I was tired, but the ball was swinging, the pitch was helpful, Andrew Flintoff at the other end was fantastic and everything just seemed to fall into place.”
Hoggard acknowledges the importance of Trescothick’s second-innings 180, which came from 248 balls and provided England with the opportunity to push for victory.
Further assistance came in the form of an injury to Proteas skipper Graeme Smith, who suffered mild concussion when being hit on the head during fielding practice prior to day four.
“I remember Trescothick playing a fantastic knock; he got a big hundred and smashed it to all parts,” recalled Hoggard.
“That gave us a chance of bowling South Africa out and the biggest thing for us was that Graeme Smith had hit his head on a cool box fielding and apparently he was knocked out and a bit dizzy, so he didn’t bat at the top and that gave us a big boost.”
Hoggard went on to claim the first six wickets to fall, including Jacques Kallis for a golden duck, before Smith finally emerged at number eight to compile an ultimately futile unbeaten 67.
“It just seemed that everything we did went right,” Hoggard continued.
“Jacques Kallis was the key for me, he went first ball. He actually played a very good innings - he didn’t follow the ball, he played a defensive shot and the ball nipped away and took the outside edge!
“Geraint Jones tried to take the catch and dived straight across Marcus Trescothick. I thought he had shelled it to start with, but Tres did a fantastic job on concentrating on catching the ball.
“Kallis is such a fantastic player and he had been in good form that series. To get him first ball was a massive bonus, a massive lift.
“Then we didn’t know if Graeme Smith would be coming out next. We were getting into their batters at the time, saying: ‘Where’s your leader? He’s hiding. He’s not leading from the front, he’s letting you boys do it.’”
Fittingly, it was Hoggard who claimed the final wicket when he had Dale Steyn caught behind by Jones. A draw at Centurion then ensured England claimed the series 2-1.
“The fact that we won the Test match was the biggest thing,” he concluded. “To take 12 out of the 18 wickets to win a Test was massive.
“I took seven-for in New Zealand on a green mamba (in Christchurch), a dropped-in pitch where Nathan Astle came in and scored the quickest double hundred.
“That spell of bowling was up there with it, but on a personal level, taking 12 wickets to win a game was most probably the highlight for me.”