All entries for October 2009

October 14, 2009

What has Matthew Hoggard done wrong?

What has Matthew Hoggard done wrong?

Matthew Hoggard comes across as a funny, down to earth, reliable and respected man. On top of this, he was a fantastic international cricketer in his day and is still a very, very handy county player. So what has he done wrong to be treated so badly by club and country in recent times?

Let me explain a little bit first what I am talking about. After being off the pace somewhat for ONE test match during England’s tour to New Zealand in March 2008, Hoggard was dropped from the team for the rest of the series and following summer. This, in itself, wasn’t that unexpected.

However, Hoggard never got a re-call (unlike Steve Harmison who got chance after chance to impress) and was basically cast aside by the England selectors.

Speaking about his lack of appearances for England at the time, he said that his contact with the ECB ‘had been zero’ and that it ‘breaks his heart’ how he lost his place in the squad. The quote “One minute I was sixth on England's all-time list of wicket-takers, the next I was told I'd lost my central contract and I was completely out on my ear” sums it up quite nicely.

Looking back, he was treated poorly. He always gave his all for England and more often than not this was with success. So why on earth wasn’t he given an explanation?

To make matters worse, the same thing has now happened for Hoggard with his County. He has been released from his contract with Yorkshire County Cricket clubdespite being the team’s leading wicket-taker and taking a hat-trick against Sussex only a few weeks ago.

The club have said that Hoggard turned down a contract to stay with the County, but he has denied this by saying that he feels ‘disappointed, gutted and angry’ about how he has been treated. According to the 32-year-old, the contract was ‘suddenly off the table”.

So, what on earth has been going on with Hoggard? Is he making a meal out of things? Has he been awkward in his reaction to England and Yorkshire’s actions? Something funny seems to be going on, that’s for sure.

Personally, I am going with the player and saying that he has been badly treated. He seems an honest individual and I don’t think he would come out and make accusations that aren’t true. Not long ago he was England’s opening bowler and one of Yorkshire’s most valuable assets in regards to improving their cricket betting odds.

Now, he will never play for his country again and he is on the hunt for a new County. I will ask it one last time – what has Matthew Hoggard done wrong?



October 09, 2009

Bopara can benefit from winter break

One of the biggest talking points after England announced their touring part of South Africa this winter was the omission of Ravi Bopara from both the Test and One Day International squads. The Essex batsman was heavily involved in all forms during the summer and now finds himself with a free winter.

This could end up being extremely beneficial for him though. His confidence is clearly low at the moment and maybe a winter away from international cricket is just what the doctor ordered. He can build his self-belief up again and work out his game.

It’s not as if he has to start from the beginning, he just needs to iron out a few technical glitches (that flick shot across the line which gets him out LBW for one) and realise what it takes to become an international batsman. It takes determination, it takes focus and it takes a lot of hard work.

It wasn’t that long ago that Andrew Strauss found himself out of the team and having to do the same thing. Now, he is one of the most consistent batsmen in the world, captaining his country to an Ashes win and being named in the 2009 ICC Test Team of the year.

I’m not saying that Bopara will go to this extreme, but it can make him realise that he can get back into the team and be successful. His talented is unquestioned; he just needs to direct it in the right way.

As for the decision to leave him out this winter, I think it is a sensible one all things considered. Was Bopara guaranteed a place in the team? No, he wasn’t. Therefore, would he have benefited from being the 12th man all winter? Not at all. It could have set him back even further.

The selectors probably looked at it and thought that the best thing for him would be to have a break from the stresses of International cricket. This is a very important winter for Bopara and as a big fan of his, I hope this time next year we are talking about what a fantastic 2010 he had for England.


October 01, 2009

Credit must go to Shah and co

Sometimes you have to hold your hands up and say well done to a player
you may have criticised in the past. This is the case with myself and
Owais Shah. After the shocking displays of the England team in the One
Day International series against Australia, I questioned his place in
the team.

Then, when he was promoted to No.3 in the batting line-up, I
questioned the England selectors. However, I have to give credit to
Shah for how well he played against South Africa on Sunday. He hit six
sixes in his fantastic innings of 98 to help England post a
match-winning 323-8 against the hosts.

England went on to win the game by 22 runs to reach the semi-finals of
the ICC Champions Trophy competition

and in doing so, knocking South Africa out of the
competition. It has been a drastic turnaround since the Australia ODI
series and this is represented superbly by Shah’s change in fortunes.

Finally, after constantly getting himself in, Shah went on to get a
big score. It would have been nice if he made it to three figures, but
his innings was just as valuable as a century. It was what England had
been crying out for.

Both Shah and Paul Collingwood – who played well for his 82 – blended
maturity and aggression perfectly to set England on their way and
leave Eoin Morgan with the final power-play to blast the score above
300. It was a near perfect batting performance and boy did I enjoy
watching it.

Speaking after restricting South Africa to 301 to win the game, Shah
admitted that he was ‘low on confidence’ going into the game, but that
he and the batting unit showed just how ‘dangerous’ they can be on
their day.

The key for the Middlesex man (and the team as a whole) is that we
take things on from here. Shah must produce more innings like this and
they must perform with this freedom, aggression and purpose more
often to ensure that Englands cricket betting odds
keep increasing.

Let’s face it, if they manage to do so twice more in this competition,
we could be celebrating a very unexpected ICC Champions Trophy
victory.


October 2009

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