FORMER England seamer Matthew Hoggard admits there will be sadness as his career ends but feels the time is right to retire.
Hoggard, who helped to bowl England to a historic victory over Australia in 2005 — their first Ashes series success since 1986-87 — announced yesterday he is to retire from first-class cricket at the end of this season.
The charismatic seamer from Yorkshire played in 67 Tests, and appeared 93 times for England in all – he also went on to captain Leicestershire after leaving Headingley.
Hoggard announced on his own website that, at the age of 36, he will conclude his 17-year career on 21 September after Leicestershire’s County Championship clash with Hampshire.
If he plays in that fixture it will take his number of first-class appearances to 239. He took 248 Test wickets including a hat-trick against West Indies in Barbados in 2004.
He will be best remembered, however, for helping England reverse the tide in their ancient rivalry with Australia.
“Calling it quits is always a difficult choice to make,” said Hoggard.
“You don’t do these sort of things willy-nilly, you have to think about it.
“I’ve come to the decision it is the right time to go. The body is beginning to hurt a lot more than it used to.
“Bowling doesn’t get any easier, and the body is not getting any younger. I think it is fair on everybody to go.
“I’ve just got four days of cricket left against Hampshire – Tuesday to Friday next week then it’s party time.
“But it will be sad too. I’m sure there will be a few tears at some point.”
Hoggard’s Test career began in 2000 and spanned eight years. His principal weapon was swing and he took 16 wickets in the epic Ashes series of 2005.
He reflected on that achievement by saying: “It was a great time. That series itself, with all the ebbs and flows and twists, was a great one to be involved in.
“It was one of the best series that has been played apparently.
“It was great to play a part in beating a very strong Australia side and bringing the Ashes back to England for the first time in 18 years – and the way it encapsulated the nation was very important for English cricket.
“It rejuvenated the country’s love of the game and I think we have gone from strength to strength since.”
Hoggard played his final Test against New Zealand in 2008 and was released by Yorkshire the following year.
He went on to achieve further success with Leicestershire, captaining the Foxes to Twenty20 glory in 2011.
He said: “Being a Yorkshireman you want to play for your county, and making my debut was a special moment.
“To be able to play for England on top of that is what dreams are made of. Then to captain Leicestershire and pick up the T20 trophy in 2011, it was nice to be able to do that.”
Other highlights included winning the County Championship with Yorkshire in 2001, but he insisted: “There are so many highlights and it would be wrong to pick out one or two.”