Friday, January 27, 2012

Laughing at Hoggy

When I saw the name Rodney Hogg in a news headline yesterday, something stirred in the reptilian antechamber to my brain, that place where obsolete information and primordial memories are stored.

Hogg is in trouble after announcing on twitter that he had raised the Aussie flag to celebrate Australia Day, and then written 'Allah is a shit' on it, to make sure that 'it would offend Muslims'. After both Muslims and non-Muslims took offence, Hogg got himself in worse strife by insisting that his remark was an attempt at 'Aussie humour'.

Hogg nowadays apparently makes a living as an after dinner speaker, but back in the summer of 1982/83, when I was staying in Victoria and being introduced by relatives there to the great game of cricket, he opened the Australian bowling attack alongside Dennis Lillee.

For me, and for the Kiwi batsmen who had to face him that summer, Lillee was a scary guy. With his mean smile, his thick and inflexible moustache, and the gold crucifix which dangled over his hairy chest, Lillee resembled one of Al Pacino's sidekicks in Scarface or Carlito's Way. His run-up seemed endless, until he finally reached the bowling crease and used a high, dramatic action to send the ball jagging out of the pitch and into the ribs of John Wright or Bruce Edgar. My Aussie relatives were a jingoistic lot, but even some of them were hostile to Lillee. I remember an elderly Aunt calling the great fast bowler a "thug", and then recalling how he had kicked Javed Miandad in 1981, after the unfortunate Pakistani batsman got in his way while taking a run. An enraged Miandad started to swing his bat at Lillee, as if it were a club. Undeterred by his lack of weaponry, Lillee grinned and put his dukes up, and it was only the intervention of an umpire which stopped the scrap. I was too cowed by Lillee to express open animosity towards him, even from the apparent safety of the living room in my grandmother's house, where I would sit watching day after day of cricket. I did, however, enjoy mocking Rodney Hogg, a bowler who had all of Lillee's aggression but none of his gravitas. Where Lillee was tall and tanned with flowing dark hair, 'Hoggy' was squat and pink-skinned, with a ridiculous crop of light ginger hair. Whenever Hogg was irritated - and he was irritated often - his skin would become pinker still, and his sunburnt ears would seem to swell. After Lance Cairns hit him for successive sixes, during a legendary innings in the second final of 1982/83 World Series Cup, Hogg was so full of colour that he resembled an enormous lobster. If Lillee's anger was terrifying, Hogg's was amusing.

Hogg's most famous clash with a bastman is featured in Fire in Babylon, the acclaimed 2010 documentary about the politically motivated, all-conquering West Indian cricket team of the late 1970s and '80s. During the Windies' 1979/80 tour of Australia, Hogg decided to try to transfer their star batsman Viv Richards from the cricket field to hospital. With his Rastafarian wrist bands, his super-aggressive batting style, and his refusal to bring any protective gear except a floppy cap and a piece of chewing gum to the crease, Richards was, in the opinion of Hogg and his Aussie team mates, a cheeky darkie overdue for a fall. Hogg began to pepper Richards with bouncers, and in the second test of the series he got a ball to fly off a dodgy Melbourne pitch into Richards' face, which was, as usual, unprotected by a helmet. Richards took the blow on the mouth, straightened up and faced Hogg, and spat a bloody tooth onto the pitch. Hogg returned to his mark and, with a massive boozed-up crowd chanting his name, ran in and bowled another bouncer at Richards. Instead of stepping aside or ducking the delivery, the great batsman hooked it into the stand for six. As Hoggy stood in the middle of the pitch and watched the ball disappear, he seemed to get pinker by the second. Richards continued smashing Hogg, until the bowler limped off the Melbourne Cricket Ground with figures off none for fifty-nine from six overs and a ripped muscle. He didn't play test cricket again for a year.

Hogg liked to serve up bouncers, but when he batted he struggled to cope with the inevitable retaliation from opposing fast bowlers. Richard Hadlee was able to bowl bouncers without varying his action or expending any extra effort, and unlike Lillee and Hogg he chose to use the delivery only sparingly. Hadlee's subtle approach to the bouncer made him especially dangerous, and in the middle of that long hot summer of 1982/83 he struck Hogg, who was not wearing a helmet, on the side of the head. As blood poured out of one of his ridiculous swollen ears and the Aussie commentators fulminated hypocritically about dangerous bowling, Hogg was escorted from the field.

After being sconed by Hadlee, Hoggy the batsman seemed preoccupied with spotting and avoiding bouncers. Sometimes he even treated yorkers - balls aimed at the sandshoes rather than the head - as if they were bouncers, as this bizarre dismissal to Viv Richards' team mate Michael Holding shows:

Retirement seems to change the personalities of some cricketers - who would have guessed that Ian Chappell, the ruthless Aussie captain who threw Lillee at cowering enemies during the 1970s, would become a critic, on humanitarian grounds, of the Howard government's treatment of refugees, or that Chris Lewis, the teetotalling English allrounder, would turn into a drug smuggler? - but it doesn't appear to have changed Hogg. He was buffoon on the field thirty years ago, and he's a buffoon off the field now. Keep the laughs coming, Hoggy.

[Posted by Maps/Scott]


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Other recent tweets by Hogg included: "A recent survey found that 1 in every 3 women are just as bloody stupid as the other 2!!"

1:21 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Aaron @hemara
@RMHogg disgusting comment, not even remotely funny. Your attitudes belong to 1950s White Australia. Grow up dickhead.

Aziza Hassan @Aziza_H
@RMHogg Well done *clap. clap* you have offended both Muslims and Australians with a pathetic attempt as a joke. Sick old man

Eddie Beer @vx255
@RMHogg Some of us still have a sense of humour.

Nishant B @nishubee
@RMHogg how can you find such racist bile humorous?? Plz don't get Australia into ur redneck views..99% ozzies won't find it funny

miinx @miinx
@RMHogg Awesome! Pity you deleted it. If anyone is offended, they should get out of this country. Humour IS the Aus way. Oppression is not.

Nicole Mockler @nicolemockler
@RMHogg Please don't try to categorise that as Australian humour. That's almost as offensive as the initial tweet.

Azrael @4Q2x
.@RMHogg thousands of Australians from all creeds, religions and cultures ? Australia day is for ALL Australians not just redneck yobos.

@RMHogg Yep, you definitely offended me. This is what we get from a former national representative on our nations birthday.

Yasmine Salameh @yasmina87
@rmhogg - What an ignorant and disgusting comment. You should be ASHAMED to call yourself an Australian.

Tim @Thwaitesy3081
@RMHogg I found it humorous,just a little old school and distasteful

Steve @steve_tabz
@RMHogg ur a bigotted old fool and a redneck dope. Redneck dogs like u r part of the problem. Ordinary speaker, ordinary cricketer, lowlife

michael hogan @Kid_Dingo
@rmhogg Not funny. Not even remotely. Not even as far as "Aussie humour" goes. Just appallingly bad, ill-considered, juvenile, and stupid.

Paul @Griffo55
@RMHogg Mate there was nothing wrong with it...those who are offended by that obviously don't get Aussie humor/culture and need to learn it!

DVD @Franks_andBeans
@RMHogg some people need to relax and not be so damn uptight all the time. Laugh people you will live a better and longer life

Alex Quilliam @alex_q_2006
@RMHogg Don't be sorry, it was only a joke for christ's sake. People need to lighten up

Cameron Atfield @CameronAtfield
There's always one. Wonder how long it'll be before @RMHogg is looking at the 'wanted' ads.

1:23 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Graham Yallop ends long-time feud with Rodney Hogg by: Jon Anderson From: Herald Sun October 29, 2007 12:00AM Increase Text SizeDecrease Text SizePrintEmail Share
Add to DiggAdd to del.icio.usAdd to FacebookAdd to KwoffAdd to MyspaceAdd to NewsvineWhat are these? 0ONE of cricket's longest feuds has been put to rest over a handshake and beer when Graham Yallop and Rodney Hogg met at the MCG.
Yallop and Hogg clashed privately and publicly during the 1978-79 Ashes series in Australia, culminating in the volatile paceman asking his captain if he'd like to settle matters at the back of the Adelaide Oval.

Hogg had left the ground during a drinks break on the third morning to get treatment for a groin strain, prompting a frustrated Yallop to storm into the dressingrooms.

"Graham wanted me straight back on the ground and I refused to move until my treatment was finished. But I did suggest we could go out the back and sort it out," Hogg recalled.

"Graham then left to go back on the ground and captain the team, but play had started and they wouldn't let him through the gate until the end of the over. It was surely the only time an over has been bowled in Australia with just 10 men on the field."

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The pair first met in the 1968-69 season, and took an instant dislike to each other, when opposed in the annual Public Schools (Yallop) versus High Schools cricket match.

Apart from a few district and Sheffield Shield games, their paths didn't cross again, with Hogg moving to South Australia to play first-class cricket, until the 1978-79 Ashes series.

With the Test team ravaged by defections to World Series Cricket, selectors Phil Ridings, Sam Loxton and Neil Harvey turned to a fire-brand quick named Rodney Malcolm Hogg. That's when the fun started.

"I knew very little about him prior to our first Test at the Gabba, but it didn't take long for him to make an impression," Yallop said.

"He says he didn't like me early on, but I had no feelings towards him one way or the other. No one had warned me, so I didn't know what to expect.

"In his second over of Test cricket he decided to completely change the field around. I suggested to him that maybe he should consult me before we worked it out together.

"He said 'OK' then did exactly the same thing next over. In the next Test at Perth he had 2-3 off two overs and then wanted to go off. We had England reeling and he reckoned he was hot.

"So off he goes. I'm thinking, 'What have I got here?' I spoke to the other players and they couldn't help me because no one knew much about him. Sadly Sigmund Freud wasn't available for a diagnosis at the time.

"The selectors wanted to drop him after the second Test because they saw him as a distraction. I argued we didn't need any further controversy in the light of WSC.

"Off the field he was OK. But once he got on the field he was a different bloke. When we got to Adelaide for the fifth Test, he just walked off the ground and refused to bowl.

"I followed him off to ask the medicos what was wrong with him and they said he was over-heated. Then the selectors told him to get back on the bloody field."

The rift was inflamed when Yallop wrote a book at the end of the series titled Lambs to the Slaughter and explained his frustrations with a player "no one could understand".

About 29 years later Hogg has returned fire with The Whole Hogg, prompting the conciliatory meeting.

"Rodney rang me to say he was writing a book and that in it he was going to bag me. He then asked me would I help launch it. Here we are, 29 years later, and he's still as mad as a cut snake," Yallop laughed.

1:30 am  
Blogger Richard said...

What got myself and my wife at the time interested in cricket was the famous "underarm" bowling incident.
From then we watch virtually every cricket game with NZ in.

A game that had seemed rather slow and dull suddenly became very exciting and full of subtleties and drama (as indeed all games are once one understands the game).

I think the game you meant was one that NZ won vs. Australia (when Lance Cairns hit a number of sixes.)

Re the West Indies. Not good for Richards to lose a tooth though. That is a bit stupid batting without protection. I recall (even before I got interested in cricket) when I think it was Chatfield nearly died. Hadley I think did mouth to mouth and he revived but Chatfield was never confidant as a batsman. (Because of of that incident?)He was a bowler and worked well in tandem with Hadley.

I remember Lillee. Big man. Good fast bowler.

Now cricket is not often free to air so I hardly watch it.

This Hogg seems rather a sad figure. Many cricketers are quite intelligent. Perhaps he has some kind of mental defficiency.

9:42 pm  
Anonymous Conrad said...

That video of Holding skittling Hogg with a full-toss is great. I was born too late to see the West Indies at the height of their powers. Looks like I'll have to search out a copy of Fire in Babylon for some old-school cricketing greatness.

Hogg to me epitomises a certain type of angry white man that thankfully largely seems to be shuffling off into retirement these days.

11:15 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rodney Hogg - what a legend!

1:06 pm  
Anonymous mike said...

Hogg has been like it all his live … in a tour of India I think it was at a dinner in the Australian’s team honour he made comments about the locals and local officials that should have had him sent home but it was largely hushed up…. essentially the he was drunk at the time was the line used …

1:38 pm  
Anonymous AHD said...

I always find it odd when cricketers are racist -- they can celebrate the success of players like Imran Khan, Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis but hate Muslims. Odd.

Did you ever see the interview with Ewen Chatfield, on cricinfo? He now drives taxis in Wellington.

Got 18 on Saturday, and 2 not out in the second dig. Only 98 away from my first ton.


10:33 pm  
Anonymous Josherick3 said...

Sport on Re: Hogg. Chris Cairns used to be able to do the "yorker that looks like a bouncer" trick too...

3:23 pm  
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7:06 pm  

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