Perth: Former Australia spinner Brad Hogg, who was involved in a match-winning seventh-wicket stand of 173 runs with Andrew Symonds in the controversial Sydney Test against India in 2007-08, is pleased that Australia have regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in a controversy-free series.
The two-time World Cup winner spoke to MiD DAY on the third and final day of the just-concluded Perth Test. The Perth-based cricketer recently returned to play for the Perth Scorchers in the Big Bash League. Excerpts from an interview:
You must be glad that your team has regained the Border-Gavaskar Trophy....
Young players can only get better by being exposed to tough conditions, feels Hogg.
I am very impressed with the way Australian cricket is going at the moment. Obviously, we've had a big turnaround since the legends have left. It has taken close to two years but it has finally happened. I was always confident that we would be back to our best. But, I am probably little disappointed with India, with the way that they have played. In England last year, and over here, it's been their worst seven or eight months ever. One thing that Australia have worked on in the last 20 years is to try and perform well everywhere. We always wanted to make sure we win everything. If India need to go forward, they need to find ways of doing well here. They need to provide local players the facilities. That's not being rude to India. They just haven't been good travellers. It won't help their reputation if they continue losing like this.
After what happened last time (all the controversy), you guys must have been waiting eagerly for the re-match with India...
India are second on the ICC Test rankings. And we've had some intriguing battles with them. It's been fantastic to play them. There's been a lot of heat out in the middle. There's one thing in cricket - you play to win. I don't mind the sledging, as long it happens in the middle, and done and dusted with. As long as it doesn't get personal, when the game is finished, you learn to walk over the line and get on. At the end of the day, we are entertainers. We are pleasing large crowds, who want to see good cricket. And we're all in the same business. We all love cricket. There's nothing more to it. We need to start getting on for the benefit of cricket.
But the credibility of your victory was questioned last time round...
Yes, and even the local writers and former players were attacking us. My family and friends were watching me play. I was hurt that our team was attacked like that. Maybe that's why this victory is sweeter because we have brushed aside some of those doubters. Nobody can question the authenticity of this win. We have beaten India fair and square.
Were you disappointed that your name was dragged into the controversy too. Some of the Indian players claimed that you had referred to one of them as a 'bas****'...
Yes, I was pretty disappointed with the way the whole thing was handled. Now, players who were high up on that scene (Harbhajan Singh and Andrew Symonds) are playing for Mumbai Indians, and are getting along nicely. I think that's the good thing about the IPL. Once you walk off that line, it's all over. You sit down, have a chat, and settle it there and then. The reason we play cricket is to compete against the best. Whether you win, lose or draw, we want to be involved in a good contest. I want to be in a tough contest. That's been the disappointing thing about India in England (last here) and here (in Australia). They have lacked confidence and haven't shown the fight they are capable of giving us. We were really wary of India before they came here. They've given us the toughest battles among all countries in the last decade or so.
Would you put that down to age? India's Big Three are on their way out soon...
Aging cricketers or not, it doesn't matter. If you are still enjoying the game, you are going to perform. There's no doubt about that. I don't know what preparation India are doing. It might have something to do with preparation before coming to Australia. If I were in charge, I'd be making sure that my up-and-coming players are playing on sporting wickets all the time. We've done that over the last 20-30 years. I remember coming to India 25 years ago as a batsman back then just to assess the conditions. I returned in 1996 for the one-off Test but didn't play. We've also got the academy over here that allows players to sharpen their skills on true wickets. It's beneficial for cricket that young players are exposed to tough conditions. You want spectators to see the best cricket out there.
Are you trying to make a T20 comeback for Australia?
If I was asked to play T20 for Australia, I'd say yes. It's something I've missed over the last three years. I am enjoying my time as a player in the Big Bash. I've put my name down in the IPL auction. Everyone over there (in India) is sick of me taking in the commentary box. One of the things I want is to do commentary and play at the same time. I am serious about IPL this season.
Is the art of chinaman bowling dying?
I actually didn't start as a chinaman bowler. It was after five to six first-class matches when it just naturally happened. These days, even off-spinners are bowling with their wrists. Nobody wants to use their fingers. So, I'd say even the art of finger spin is dying. The time when I came around as a chinaman bowler, there was only Paul Adams around. So, it's always been a rare art. But you never know, somewhere in the world right now, a young chinaman blower must be gearing up (laughs).