Matthew Hoggard December 21, 2013

Ambrose's death stare, and T20 madness

Getting the stink eye from Curtly, getting behind the reins of a side - Matthew Hoggard looks back

First cricketing hero
My first big idol was Allan Donald. I used to love watching him bowl for South Africa because he was rapid. When I was younger I wanted to just bowl quick, like him, but then I saw the light.

First time nerves got to me
It's hard. I don't think you can say there was a real "first time". I think nerves affect you all the time, whatever stage of your career you're at. I don't think there was a point where suddenly you're not bothered by them. Generally I'm not really a nervous person at all, but you still feel it. Once you send down the first one or two balls, it's out of the way and you're fine. Once you get into your spell it's no bother, providing you're not waiting for the ball to be fetched because you've been hit for a couple of sixes!

First taste of international cricket
I made my debut in 2000 and we were playing West Indies. It was the second Test and I was absolutely bricking it. We bowled them out for fiftysomething in the second innings and had a tricky chase. I remember sitting there watching [Darren] Gough and [Dominic] Cork trying to knock off the 30 runs we needed to win - and we were eight down. I was the next man in. It was absolutely horrible. But they managed to make it. I was not out in the first innings and I hit a couple through mid-on - well, cow corner - off Curtly Ambrose. He stared me down with that deathly stare and I remember thinking, "Oh no, what's happening here!" That was an experience.

First time I captained a side
It was four years ago, when I was 32. I never really wanted to be a captain because it seemed too much like hard work. Then I went to Leicestershire and it was great fun. I loved doing it and I didn't have to bowl myself for that dreaded fourth spell late in the day. I played a lot of cricket as a kid but I never captained. It didn't really interest me then at all.

First thoughts on T20 cricket
When it first came in we all thought it was just a bit of fun. No one took it seriously - not just us - and we saw it as Tom Noddy cricket, with not much thought about it. How that all changed. I remember my first T20 game, against Derbyshire. We needed five to win off three balls. I was batting with Phil Jaques and I was facing. The last ball, I missed, we ran and the keeper shied at the stumps and missed. There was then a misfield and another overthrow. We managed to run them all to win the game!