Opening up about his astonishing comeback and fitness level at 45, Australian spinner Brad Hogg today said he gets a healthy dose of constant encouragement from his wife that keeps him going, but conceded he regrets quitting Test cricket after just seven outings.
Hogg is presently enjoying his Indian Premier League stint at Kolkata Knight Riders.
“It’s good to be playing the game with someone who’s pushing you to go as far as you want. There’s talk about me when I’m going to stop and she just says play as long as you possibly can. We’re going to try get there to fifty,” Hogg said on the eve of their match against Mumbai Indians.
Hogg was the pick of KKR bowler with figures of 3/19 as Delhi Daredevils succumbed to 98 to suffer a nine-wicket defeat in their IPL opener.
Having spent much time in the shadow of the legendary Shane Warne, Hogg had called it quits in 2008 after just seven Tests and 123 ODIs.
Hogg regretted his Test retirement and blamed it on his personal issues with his former wife.
“I do regret retiring back in 2008. I had a Test berth for Australia at that stage but I had some personal issues with family and yes, I retired there. I wish I didn’t because the marriage did not survive. Luckily it did not because I met a new partner and she’s wonderful and someone who supports me.”
“I think it’s just having the passion of wanting to play. Everyone knows I retired in 2008, had about two-three years out of the game. To have here and do have an opportunity what you love, I don’t take it for granted. I just love it, I still have the passion of a five year old kid when I first had that dream of playing for Australia. The game’s changed, it’s evolved. It’s given a new lease of life to cricket and it’s given a new lease of life to me. It’s just having that
Elaborating on his fitness regime, he said: “Basically I try to do everything everyday. I try to have two days off but still doing something physical. I really have five days where I go really hard an hour and a bit, make sure I keep the fitness up. Once you stop, you lose it and I don’t want to lose it now.
“I guess when I had that period where I had the couple of years off where I was coaching and I thought myself better I keep fit. Luckily I did but I don’t want to go back and coach those kids. I will try and stay healthy as possibly as I can for the rest of my life.
“I don’t want to be in a hospital when I’m sixty with something that I could have avoided. That’s probably the main reason why I keep healthy.”
With Kolkata Knight Riders’ premier spinner Sunil Narine back in the squad, Hogg’s place in the team may be uncertain but the Australian veteran said they share a lot of mutual respect.
Terming the West Indian off-spinner as a class act, Hogg said: “He (Narine) is sorely missed. It’s disappointing with what happened with him personally and with his action. He’s a class act, he’s got the skill. He’s sorely missed through that World Twenty20. It’s great to have him back.
“As individuals, we want to be on par. But it’s a team. If I’m not playing and he takes my spot, I still have got to create the energy in the changing room and make sure everyone is up for the challenge. It doesn’t matter whether you’re playing or not, you still can play a part,” he said.
With his childlike enthusiasm, Hogg said he always keeps the dressing room alive.
“I’m fairly energetic. If I’m quiet, upset and get stressed because I’m not playing, everyone else will feel that and will bring everyone down. I cannot afford to do that. It’s a team game and we all play a part. When we get our chances in the middle, we got to do our role,” said the 45-year-old chinaman bowler.
“It’s good having myself and Sunil putting the pressure and when we put pressure on each other to perform it’s good and respectful competition between us,” he said.
Cleared by the ICC after a remedial action, Narine had to rush back home due to father’s demise.
“Hope his family is well after the passing of his father. It’s sad news but life goes on and hopefully we can put him into a great space when he gets in,” Hogg said.
Hogg said Narine would not lose any sting in his bowling.
“I remember taking some balls from him and his action was perfect. We all know he can do it without the restriction, he can do it legitimately. Let me tell you I was struggling to pick him up from other end when he was bowling the doosra and I thought it was going the other way.”
Talking about the impact of spinners in Twenty20, Hogg said the Australians had a different perspective and thought the tribe would cease to exit in the batsmen-friendly format but only to be proved wrong.
“When T20 came we at Australian team thought spinners are going to die. But it’s great to see especially in IPL and the Big Bash League back home teams are going with two frontline spinners.
“It’s just great because we’re covering all aspects of the game. We’ve seen spin, pace, medium pacer. It’s just great to see the game evolved and see T20 cricket not taking aspects of the game away that we all respected in the longer form of the game of Test cricket. T20 has really enlightened Test as well, taken skills from the Test and put it in an exciting way for the youngsters today,” Hogg said.
The chinaman bowler said in T20 the bowlers would have to show respect to every batsman irrespective of their experience.
“It doesn’t matter whether I’m bowling to an inexperienced or an experience player. The time that you think you’re bowling to an inexperienced player, you mentally switch off for that minute thinking that it would be easy,” he said.
“That’s the time you get punished. It’s very hard to switch off and get back when you’re in a tough situation. In a tournament like this, it doesn’t matter whether experienced or inexperienced I approach in the same way.”
Talking about young Australian leg-spinner Adam Zampa, he said, “I’ve seen him grow very quickly. He’s got very good mental strength. When you get to that level, it’s not about your skill but your mental strength and hanging in there.
“When chips are down, you’re hit for a six, you see the ball going past but you have the same attitude the next ball. He does not drop his head, that’s something I’ve learnt from him. He’s very good in that department.
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