As we’re all aware, Hoggy is one of England’s finest Test bowlers – with 248 wickets, he’s ninth on the list of English wicket-takers, for example – but a new study conducted by the BBC’s Test Match Special statisticians shows him to be the very best we’ve ever had.
The research looked at the calibre of every England bowler’s victims, rated by their position in the batting order among other factors, and found that Hoggy was a better bet than any of his compatriots for skittling the very best international batsmen. Many bowlers make a habit of knocking over batters from the lower and middle orders, but the study proves Hoggy was particularly proficient at laying waste to openers, a quality that can play havoc with a batting side’s confidence and stability. BBC staff equated the accolade with the way in which boxers are described as the best “pound-for-pound”.
The BBC dispatched one of their reporters to the headquarters of Matthew’s management agency, Champions Celebrity, in Leicestershire to interview him for a feature on Radio 5Live. Clearly, the honour came out of the blue but wasn’t enough of a shock to rob Hoggy of his trademark sense of humour: “It really surprised me when I read the email telling me about this. It’s not something I’d ever thought about but obviously it gives me certain bragging rights over. . . . well, everybody!”
On a more serious note, he said, “I didn’t ever spend time thinking about my stats when I was playing, I was just focused on the moment and doing my best for the team and my mates. You don’t do it with one eye on your averages, you do it because you love it and because you’re part of something larger.”
Ever modest, Hoggy was quick to suggest that he often profited from the hard work of his bowling partners. “My role was very much on the shopfloor, sweeping up after the main strike bowlers like Simon Jones, Harmy and Jimmy Anderson. The job was to contain them and keep the scoring low but often, having survived a few overs against my faster mates, they fancied whacking me all over that shop and got a bit sloppy – not that I was complaining!”
Cricket has been measured by statistics for as long as anyone can remember but this new metric helps to give us a more developed idea of individual bowler’s influence on team performance. It also proves something we always knew to be the case – that Hoggy is right up there with the England all-time greats.
Congratulations, Mr Hoggard and more power to your elbow!