'I Feel Like I'm 21 Again' - Brad Hogg,Bowlers, Maddinson Help Sixers Reach Final
They say 40 is the new 30. Or maybe 40 is the new 20 in Brad Hogg's case after he was selected in Australia's T20 squad for next week's internationals against India. Hogg, who turns 41 next month, retired from all forms of cricket in March 2008 but made his comeback this summer for the Perth Scorchers and has been one of the standout performers in the Big Bash League. He has collected 12 wickets at an average of 13.50 in helping the Scorchers reach this weekend's final, but even more impressive has been his economy rate of 5.40. Hogg now has the chance not only to resume his international career next week, but also to earn himself a place at the ICC World Twenty20, to be held in Sri Lanka in September. "It's unbelievable. Seriously I feel like I'm 21 again," Hogg said. "I really feel excited about where my cricket's gone over the last month and to be honest with you it's just a dream come true."John (Inverarity, national selection manager) rang me up yesterday morning and just asked me if I was right to go. He woke me up at about 7 o'clock in the morning, the old bugger, but it was just great news. I hardly slept last night. I'm just excited. It's just like being a kid again and another Christmas present under the Christmas tree."It is an astonishing turn-around for Hogg, who four years ago ended a 15-year first-class career that brought him seven Test appearances, 123 one-day internationals, and two T20 internatioanls. Despite still being extremely fit, and seemingly enjoying the game, he cited personal issues as the major reason for his retirement, saying at the time "I've got things that I want to sort out at home and get my new chapter in my life organised and on the go."Hogg disappeared from the game completely, surfacing briefly as a television commentator for Australia's tour of India in 2010, before returning to represent Willetton Dragons in Perth grade cricket last season. After two T20s he was convinced to play two-day cricket again, and he took 5 for 44 in an elimination final, before scoring off a match-winning 144 in the semi-final. Since being recruited by the Perth Scorchers this season he has been a revelation."I didn't plan it. It's just really exciting and I'm going to enjoy every moment of it," Hogg said. "One thing I've realised over the last three years is life only comes once and once cricket was gone I thought it was gone forever. But I'm just really going to make the most of this opportunity. It's just fantastic. I'm proud to be West Australian and I'm proud to be back in the green and gold as well."Only Rana Naved-ul-Hasan (15) and James Faulkner (13) have taken more wickets in the BBL than Hogg this summer, while only Mitchell Starc has a better average, and no other player has conceded less than a six per over. However, despite his incredible form, representing Australia had only recently become a possibility in Hogg's mind."Probably only about a week ago I started to think if they were interested in selecting me I'd definitely take that opportunity," he said. "The only thing that's on my mind for the rest of this week is to make sure that we give it our best to get some silverware on the mantelpiece for West Australian cricket through the Perth Scorchers, and then after that my goal will be to try and get in that World Cup squad and win a World Cup at T20 level for Australia."Hogg is no stranger to World Cups having been a part of both the 2003 and 2007 triumphs for Australia in the 50-over format. Hogg was quick to point out he was no guarantee to go to the World T20 later this year and was even more cagey when asked about his prospects of playing beyond that tournament."Firstly I've got to be fit around the World Cup and I've got to be still showing form. They're not going to pick me if I'm not showing form, simple as that. Beyond the World Cup I don't really have any aspirations after that. I think Australian cricket's got to look forward and go for the younger players, but at the present moment, luckily, I've been in form. with the ball and they've given me the nod to participate in Twenty20 cricket for Australia. I'm not going to complain, simple as that."Hogg was hoping to go Sri Lanka for the World T20 in any case, having accepted a coaching role with Papua New Guinea."I've had to change a few things. I was meant to be coaching Papua New Guinea and we were hoping to get that squad into the T20 World Cup just coming up. Things have changed. We've got to find a new coach over there for the boys."Andy Bichel was doing the job and then I was going to take over when Bich decided to leave but those things have changed. I'll stay involved in some capacity there. [I will] keep chatting with Greg Campbell who is in charge. They're a pretty good, talented squad over there. An interesting group of people but the enthusiasm over there for the way they go about their cricket gave me the joy to come back and play for the Perth Scorchers."Should Hogg play next Wednesday against India it will be one month shy of four years since he last represented Australia, and more than five years since he played a T20 international. But that pales by comparison to the seven-year, 78-match gap between his first and second Tests. However, Hogg is unperturbed by any of that as Twenty20 has given him a new lease on life."If I was a little bit younger I'd want to play all three forms of the game but Twenty20's given me the opportunity to participate for my country at the highest level again and keep me involved in the game as a player," he said. "Basically I just want to stay involved in cricket as long as I can. It's been my life from day dot, I've enjoyed it. I love my sport and I'm just grateful that cricket's given me the opportunities that it has."
A spot in the Big Bash final, and qualification for the Champions League T20, was left in the hands of 32-year-old Ian Moran, who had only played four Twenty20 games and 13 List A games before the semi-final. The Sydney Sixers' Moran, who has represented Scotland, held his nerve in the last over as the Hobart Hurricanes' Rana Naved-ul-Hasan and Michael Hogan failed to find the 18 runs required to win at the Bellerive Oval. Given the potency of the Hurricanes batting line-up, with two of the three leading run-scorers in the competition in their side, the Sixers looked unlikely to defend 153. But their varied bowling attack, featuring Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, New Zealand's Nathan McCullum and the virtually unknown Moran managed to accomplish what seemed an impossible task. They strangled the Hurricanes to scrape home by eight runs and book a place in the final. As so often happens in big matches this semi-final hinged on one vital moment. The Hurricanes were 1 for 50, four balls into the ninth over, with an achievable 104 runs required from 67 balls.The tournament's leading run-scorer, Travis Birt, stood over his bat, wielding it like an axe, facing up to the grey-haired Stuart MacGill. Birt had had one sighter, which he drove powerfully to long-off for a single. MacGill's eyes were focused. The previous ball, Phil Jaques attempted to slog-sweep with the turn over midwicket, but a miscue yielded just a single. MacGill, with all his experience, tossed it up next ball. Birt's eyes lit up as he skipped forward and swung hard. But he misread the perfectly executed wrong 'un, which spun away from his flashing blade, and Peter Nevill completed a simple stumping. MacGill, and his Sixers team-mates, knew they had struck a decisive blow. The capacity Hobart crowd fell flat. Birt was out for 11, his lowest score of the tournament by some margin. Four balls later, the creative Owais Shah outsmarted himself and was bowled by an innocuous straight ball from McCullum for a duck. The Hurricanes seemed dead and buried but they did not go down without a fight. Jaques played arguably his finest hand of the tournament. Having got to 33 at a pain-staking run-a-ball, he played consecutive reverse-sweeps for fours in MacGill's third over, which cost 15. Jaques managed consecutive boundaries again off MacGill two overs later: a long-hop was pulled to the fence to bring up Jaques' half-century and another reverse-sweep rubbed salt into MacGill's wound. Jaques dealt the Sixers another blow when Brett Lee ran into him while trying to stop a drive. Lee bled profusely from the nose, Jaques and Matt Johnston took nine from the over and the Hurricanes were still alive with 47 needed from 24 balls. Steven Smith's double strike in the next over, which included Jaques' dismissal for 63, attempting another reverse-sweep, all but sealed the game. Naved-ul-Hasan, the Pakistan bowler who has become a cult figure in Australia, played a cameo that was typical of him. The Sixers captain Smith gambled by bowling a second over, the 19th of the innings, and Naved hit two mighty sixes and a four to leave 18 required off the last over. But despite a boundary off Moran's first ball, Naved was stranded with an unbeaten 30 from just 14 balls. Earlier, the game looked very much in the Hurricanes' control. Xavier Doherty began the night with a wicket-maiden, removing Moises Henriques caught and bowled. It took the Sixers ten balls to register their first run, and Nic Maddinson took until the ninth over to get his runs tally ahead of his number of balls faced. Maddinson, though, did not panic as wickets fell at the other end. He hit eight fours in a 51-ball 68 that was critical to his side's victory, and saw him named Man of the Match.The Hurricanes again bowled well with only Jason Krejza leaking more than eight runs an over, but the Sixers managed to bowl that little bit better. Lee was again wonderful NHL Jerseys Cheap
with 2 for 22 from his four. Moran's four overs cost just 25, while the spinners, MacGill, McCullum, and Smith, made decisive strikes. The Sixers will meet the Perth Scorchers in the final, which will be played on January 28 at the WACA.
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