Former Yorkshire bowler Matthew Hoggard backing White Rose to shine in T20

IT was a case of friends reunited at Headingley yesterday as Matthew Hoggard and Steve Harmison came together ahead of Yorkshire’s T20 Blast match against Durham on Friday.

Matthew Hoggard: Former Yorkshire and England bowler is backing the county to deliver in the T20 format this season.
Matthew Hoggard: Former Yorkshire and England bowler is backing the county to deliver in the T20 format this season.

The former Ashes-winning pace pair, who gave such sterling service to the respective counties, were promoting the fixture in association with nationwide premium car retailer Vertu Motors, which recently announced a two-year sponsorship deal with both Yorkshire and Durham.

Local interest centred on Hoggard, of course, who, when he was not helping England to some of their most successful Test wins of the modern era, was busy taking almost 500 wickets in all cricket for Yorkshire during a stellar 13-year first-team career before seeing out his playing days with Leicestershire. And although Yorkshire have never quite cracked the T20 format, having only twice reached Finals Day since the competition began in 2003, the man who was always England’s Mr Reliable believes that they have the talent as they attempt to break their duck this year.

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“Yorkshire have got a very exciting T20 squad,” Hoggard told The Yorkshire Post. “There’s Bairstow, Willey, Malan, Rashid – international class bowlers and batters.

Ashes hero: Matthew Hoggard was part of England's famous 2005 series win over Australia. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

“This game (against Durham) might be the last they have before international duty, and it promises to be a fantastic match with international quality.

“I think we’ve got the personnel to do very well in white-ball cricket this year – we’ve got World Cup winners in the squad, so they’ve got a lot of things to pass on to the younger players. In my opinion the talent is there, the knowledge is there, and it’s now just putting it out on the pitch and making sure they perform consistently.”

Hoggard, 44, lives in Leicestershire these days where he has a barbecue business he enjoys with a passion.

He still follows all the scores closely and took a keen interest in England’s Test series against New Zealand.

Mr Reliable: Matthew Hoggard took nearly 500 wickets in his Yorkshire career.

Asked for his take on England’s disappointing 1-0 defeat, Hoggard said: “Not enough runs. That’s the be-all and end-all, isn’t it. We need some batters who can put some scores on the board.

“I know it might sound like a broken record, but we’re still trying to find batters to replace Andrew Strauss.

“We said we need to find somebody to partner Alastair Cook, and we never found anybody.

“We went through 14 people trying to find somebody, and then we lost Cooky and were looking for somebody to replace him.

“We seem to have a lot of four-five-six-sevens, but we don’t have a lot of one-two-threes.”

Hoggard, who enjoyed an outstanding Test career that brought him 248 wickets from 67 appearances, believes that the batsmen are struggling for confidence.

Only Joe Root is consistently scoring runs in a fragile top-order, and he had an underwhelming series himself this time with 97 runs in four innings.

“I would say it’s confidence,” said Hoggard.

“They’re our best batters – they’ve proved that in the County Championship.

“But there’s something that’s not quite clicking at the moment, and we need to find a way to bat long periods of time,” added Hoggard.

“Take your hat off to the New Zealand bowlers – they’re a good bowling unit, but the worrying thing is we’re coming up against India next who are an even better bowling unit, and there’s not a lot of red-ball cricket between Test matches to put things back into shape, so it’s down to each individual batter to find the form from somewhere.”

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