Henry Cowen revisits Matthew Hoggard running through the West Indies line-up to register a hat-trick in Barbados.
I don’t know why but my favourite cricketers were never the obvious choices – never the big names. I had a thing – still do, really – for the strivers and the triers. If I perceived a player to be naturally talented, we were done. I wonder whether it was a desire to know more than my peers, to appear more intelligent. “Yeah, well obviously he’s great but it’s actually *insert name of honest toiler* who’s the real star, donchaknow?” Or maybe it’s because I was shit myself. We’ll never know.
Either way I revered Colly and Hoggy, amongst others. The second half of that workmanlike duo – the funny-faced Yorkie with the big arse – is responsible for my favourite cricketing photograph – or, at least, his actions are the reason the photo exists. Credit should of course go to the man behind the lens.
It was 2004 and Sky was fairly novel in my household. The tour of the West Indies was, I think, the first overseas trip I watched on TV. I remember tuning in to watch the first day with my older brother Fred and being excited almost beyond words. I’d never watched cricket in the West Indies before but for a young speccy boy with a stack of Wisdens next to his bed, I knew what it meant. I also knew that this West Indies outfit didn’t hold a candle to the sides of old, and that this England team were good. Like really good.
That said, I’m not sure I expected us to win. My dad’s dislike of sport had already transferred some hard-nosed pessimism into me. They’ll only bloody lose the next one, just you watch. But they didn’t lose. They kept on winning.
Harmy’s 7-12 was ridiculous, but – as I say – the heroes for me were never the Billy Big Bollocks. Hoggy’s hat-trick in the third Test in Barbados, delivered while my mum did the ironing, my little sister did her art homework on the floor and my brother slept on the sofa was – to me – genuinely miraculous. The idea of three in three baffled me. It still does a bit – what are the chances?
And it was Hoggy! I stood up in my sitting room, I clapped, I hugged my slightly confused mum, I woke up my brother. And what I love about this picture is that it captures that senseless joy. The fans and the players are beyond delighted for him – for Hoggy, that funny sod who never stopped running in.
First published in September 2016