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While one Western Australian bowed out to overflowing praise for an outstanding career, another must have crept off wondering if he had performed in his last Test
Peter English at the Adelaide Oval
January 28, 2008
On the final days in Sydney and Adelaide, where the spinners are supposed to excel, Hogg picked up only one wicket. At the start of the series he was the right man, but he is 37 next month and has been unable to satisfy the demands of someone who is so experienced.
Apart from when operating successfully against Sourav Ganguly, he has looked like a chess player who isn't sure what is happening five moves ahead. A slow bowler without a thoughtful plan is not much help, especially against those as accomplished as the Indians. The ball has been speared in at speed - the batsmen were not worried about the crucial double danger of falling lbw or edging the same delivery - and he has been treated like a little brother.
Virender Sehwag watched two balls with caution in Hogg's first over of the day before trying to launch him over the Clem Hill Stand at deep midwicket. The powerful heave fell just short, but it still cleared one of the longest boundaries on the ground and was followed by a drive through cover for four. Ricky Ponting called off the carnage after Hogg's opening five overs cost 42 and Andrew Symonds and Michael Clarke were preferred until after tea. The pair might also be heavily employed in the future.
On his return Hogg was struck for four by Sehwag, who brought up his 150, and his one breakthrough came when Harbhajan Singh drove to Ricky Ponting at mid-off. It was his second wicket of the Test and he was given only 12 second-innings overs before the match closed.
"I don't think Brad's let anybody down right through this series," Ponting said. "He's done the job we probably all expected he would do - probably no more, probably no less." It was not the sort of endorsement a struggling bowler hopes for and Ponting also spoke of the need to lean on Symonds and Clarke if Hogg isn't around.
In three Tests Hogg has captured eight wickets at an average of 60.12, which is not a number that will be etched on any honourboard. Take away the four times he removed Ganguly and the cost of Harbhajan (twice), Yuvraj Singh and VVS Laxman inflates to 120.25. The figures should be career ending in Tests - he remains the most valuable of one-day bowlers - but Australia's stocks are so unsure a reprieve is possible.
"It's a little while now before we play any more Tests," Ponting said. "We've got a couple of months of one-day cricket and then the selectors will sit down and pick who they think is going to be the next - well, if it's not Hogg - who the next spinner is going to be after that."
While a young bowler might be horrified and deflated by such figures as Hogg's, he would at least be able to benefit from the experience and it would form an important part of his development. Dan Cullen, the South Australia offspinner, needs to be considered for the Test tours if MacGill cannot - or does not - recover from wrist surgery. Any success Hogg has in the CB Series needs to ignored when it comes to discussing his viability in the longer game.
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