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January 18, 2005
"Hoggy bashes the Boks" was the lead story in The Sun, with a follow-up on England's star, described as the King of the Swingers. "The Hogwarts Express served up some magic," wrote John Etheridge, warming to a theme. "He stomped the ground like Shrek and made the ball swerve like a demented boomerang." The Mirror found space on an inside page to praise "Hoggard's Seventh Heaven", but preferred a back page story on how David Beckham is not addicted to fame. What next? How Wayne Rooney loves doing social work?
The Daily Mail was happier to concentrate on Hoggard the bowler. "He exploited the conditions perfectly," it reported. "His ability to swing the ball was richly rewarded with England's best match figures in a Test since Ian Botham claimed 13 for 106 in Bombay a quarter of a century ago."
Even the heavyweights struggled to contain themselves. "A hayrick-haired son of the soil with a heart of oak bowled England to a memorable victory," wrote Mike Selvey in The Guardian "Hoggard is a country boy whose ploughman-plod has its roots in solitary dogwalking out on the moors. A brief conversation on the eve of the game, a statement rather than a question, was revealing: "Your pitch then Hoggy." He just grinned and made that wristy twofingered glove-puppet motion that fast bowlers like to make when suggesting seam movement. He knew that this was his time and he had the wherewithall to make it count."
In The Independent, Stephen Brenkley reported that Hoggard would find all the media attention a bit too much. "Hoggard looked tired and slightly nonplussed by events, which were both understandable reactions. He will not like all the fuss, or the notebooks and cameras that will dance attendance on him over the next few days. His favourite pastime is walking his dogs (usually alone) in the countryside near his home close to Baildon in West Yorkshire and going home to open one of the many cans of beer he keeps in his fridge."
There was also praise for Graeme Smith's rearguard which almost saved the match for South Africa. "He battled with immense pride to avoid defeat," said Christopher Martin-Jenkins in The Times. "Having come in at No 8, ignoring medical advice that he should not bat because of the concussion he suffered when hit by the ball accidentally on Sunday morning, Smith was still there when Hoggard took his seventh wicket, and twelfth of the match. The injury to the tough young South Africa captain's pride will be greater than that to his head."
Writing in The Guardian, South African journalist Neil Manthorp couldn't contain his frustration. "South African cricket may yesterday have suffered its most damaging blow since its isolation ended in June 1991," he fumed. "Last year was so packed full of disappointment that there were fears that the team's supporters, most of them fickle at the best of times, would be drawn back towards following the resurgent Springbok rugby side. Now that has all gone, crushed as decisively as an elephant stamping on a cockroach. It was as dispiriting a defeat as South Africa have suffered in the modern era and now the ghosts of the past are set to re-emerge as the recriminations begin."
Back to the game itself, and in the Daily Telegraph, Geoff Boycott underlined the contribution Marcus Trescothick made to England's win. "It was his innings that gave Hoggard the opportunity of winning the match," he wrote. "He'll find it difficult to play a better and more important innings in his career."
In the same paper, Derek Pringle highlighted Andrew Flintoff's dismissal of Shaun Pollock. "Softening him up with a 90mph bouncer that struck the batsman a sickening blow to the head (the ball rebounded to deep mid-wicket), he got him three balls later, the ensuing edge the result of footwork scrambled by the earlier impact."
Martin Williamson is managing editor of Cricinfo.