George Bradley Hogg
February 06, 1971, Narrogin, Western Australia
Left hand bat
Left arm wrist spin
With his booming grin, zooming flipper and hard-to-pick wrong'un, Brad Hogg is Australia's most mercurial chinaman bowler since 'Chuck' Fleetwood-Smith in the 1930s. He announced himself to the world with a stupendous flipper to Zimbabwe's Andy Flower in the 2003 World Cup. Flower leapt back, waited for the away-spin and then slumped, hideously bamboozled, as the ball fizzed straight through on to his stumps. Until that moment, Hogg's cricketing trajectory had been anything but straightforward. Like Stuart MacGill, he had spent years in the shadow of Shane Warne. He went to that World Cup hoping to pick Warne's brain, and unexpectedly found himself filling Warne's boots. His initial Test opportunity, at Delhi way back in 1996, also arose as Warne's stand-in. He made 1 and 4, took 1 for 69, and was promptly dumped for the next seven years and 78 games. No other Australian has waited so long between his first and second Tests; Alan Hurst, dropped for 30 matches, was the previous record-holder.
During his time in the wilderness, Hogg learned to practise less and enjoy himself more. He began first-class life as a solid left-hand batsman, before flirting with chinamen in the nets one afternoon at the playful suggestion of his Western Australia coach Tony Mann. His batting has fallen away, although he hit a Pura Cup century in 2004-05, but his jack-in-a-box fielding makes up for it. Hogg used to be a postman - "I do my round like a Formula One driver," he once bragged - and has the ever-present smile of a postie who's never known yappy dogs or rainy days.
Claiming the Man-of-the-Series award against Bangladesh, Hogg passed 100 ODI wickets in April 2006, but was used strangely at home the following season after playing in the final of the Champions Trophy. Called on only once during the CB Series preliminary rounds, he was even released for domestic matches and seemed to be on the verge of exiting the national set-up. Cameron White's disappointing bowling turned the selectors back to Hogg, who then failed to get a wicket in the next five games. However, instead of being a World Cup passenger, he suddenly headed for the cockpit for an incredible journey. Batsmen found choosing a Caribbean bar easier than picking Hogg's tricky menu and he created as much destruction as Murali. Twenty-one wickets at 15.80 sparked many more smiles but he again struggled when given chances in the Test series against India, his eight wickets costing almost 60 apiece. Nevertheless, his decision to retire at the end of the 2007-08 summer caught many on the hop.
His decision to come back was just as surprising. After a brief stint as a commentator, he returned to play grade cricket in Perth. That led to a surprise call-up for the Perth Scorchers in the 2012 BBL, and his child-like enthusiasm led to a recall, at 40, to the national Twenty20 squad against India in 2011-12. The IPL recruits were paying attention too, when Rajasthan Royals bought him for $180,000.
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