Australia v India 2007-08 / Features

Australia v India, 1st Test, MCG, 4th day

Patient Hogg upstages India

Hogg's Australia's best spin option and can be satisfied that he out-performed Symonds and troubled one of the game's most accomplished players of spin

Peter English at the MCG

December 29, 2007

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Brad Hogg's deliveries skidded and overspun and the Indians upgraded their view of a bowler they planned to exploit © Getty Images
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A specialist spinner's greatest fear is being out-bowled by a part-timer on the final day. It happened in Brad Hogg's previous Test, when Simon Katich grabbed six wickets in the second innings to his one, and the upshot was a four-year wait for a fifth cap.

Hogg's déjà vu began as soon as Andrew Symonds trapped Rahul Dravid with a sharp offspinner in the first session, but with the faith of his captain, Hogg was able to banish the vision and secure another trial in the second Test from Wednesday. The Australians are desperate for Hogg to succeed - Ricky Ponting persevered with him through the harsh early treatment from Sachin Tendulkar on day two - and he was rewarded with the trophy wicket of Sourav Ganguly twice in his match collection of four. In the second innings he was able to block an end, a role which will also be essential at the SCG.

Lindsay Kline , the left-arm wrist spinner who played 13 Tests in the late 1950s and early 1960s, was watching in the MCC committee room and was pleased with Hogg's effort. Slow bowlers are generous to their own, but as Hogg's deliveries skidded and overspun the Indians upgraded their view of a bowler they planned to exploit. Anil Kumble, who picked Hogg as the weak link before the match, praised his performance and was disappointed his batsmen were unable to control him.

On the final day Hogg manufactured a handful of edges, which fell short, wide and on the shoe of Matthew Hayden at first slip, as well as a couple of chances for Adam Gilchrist, whose major error was a missed stumping when Ganguly charged. It didn't matter for long as Hogg deceived the batsman again in his next over, adding the dismissal to the lbw of Yuvraj Singh.

He bowled Ganguly in the first innings with a ball that skidded through, prompting Ponting to describe it as "one of the great flippers you'll ever see". Kline also boasted about owning the delivery after taking the second wicket of his hat-trick against South Africa in 1957-58 - Hugh Tayfield was lbw - but 50 years later admits it was not in his repertoire. Sometimes legspinners just skid on and Kline felt that happened with Hogg's removal of Ganguly.

Richie Benaud taught Kline the ball and no amount of practice could make it perfect. Three nets were cleared when he worked on it and he eventually decided the standard offerings were tricky enough to master. Hogg has the variation and used it well, taking Yuvraj with what Ponting called "another great flipper". At the table Kline, now 73, demonstrated the action, licking his fingers before rotating his wrist.

On the field Hogg was doing the same thing as well as wiping his face, hanging out his tongue and bouncing like a child filled with raspberry cordial. In the first over of the day he jumped high when a ball turned a couple of meters from short-leg, so when he tricked Yuvraj his celebration was as enthusiastic as Shane Warne's for his 700th wicket here 12 months ago. Hogg now owns 13 victims and they have all been cherished.

After lunch Symonds was preferred ahead of the specialist, but the greater danger came from Hogg and he returned 2 for 51 from 17 overs. His four wickets dilute some of the worries Australia had over filling Stuart MacGill's spot, but he will be examined thoroughly again in Sydney. Spin in Australia post-Shane Warne is again a match-to-match proposition.

It was at the SCG where Katich trumped Hogg in 2003 and Ponting expects more this time. "You'll see him get a lot of confidence out of this game," Ponting said, "and you'll see a better and different bowler in Sydney." Currently he is Australia's best option and can be satisfied that he out-performed Symonds and troubled one of the game's most accomplished players of spin.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

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