Deniliquin’s star allrounder Andrew Hogan is looking forward to playing a bigger role with the ball as he embarks on his sixth Bendigo Country Week cricket carnival next week.
Hogan has taken 31 wickets so far this season — the second most in the competition — opening the bowling for the Deni Rhinos, and this has certainly captured the attention of the Murray Valley selectors.
The right-arm paceman didn’t bowl a ball for Murray Valley at last year’s carnival, but that’s unlikely to be the case this year.
‘‘I was happy not to bowl (last year),’’ Hogan said.
‘‘I’ve had a pretty chronic back complaint for a few years now, so batting at number three was enough without the pressure of bowling, and we had strong bowling options anyway.
‘‘But this year Luke (Murray Valley captain Luke Carter) said he may give me the new ball. That would probably mean I’d drop to four or five in the batting order, which I’m fine with.
‘‘The ball’s been coming out well this year and the back’s fine once I get warmed up. Hopefully we can go one better than last year.’’
Murray Valley lost last year’s Division One final to Goulburn Murray on day five of the annual carnival.
Hogan said while it was disappointing it’s not something you tend to dwell on when it’s representative cricket.
He said what he’s looking forward to this year is having a couple of Deni teammates alongside him at his third consecutive carnival — wicketkeeper Jonty Tubb and Jamaican import Zeniffe Fowler — and matching up against his brother, Isaac, who’ll be representing Northern Districts.
‘‘Having Jonty and Zeniffe there should make it even more enjoyable. The past couple of years I think we’ve had a Deni player travel down for the odd game and head home, but not stay for the week.
‘‘Country Week’s all about enjoying your cricket and catching up with blokes from other clubs and bonding with the guys from your home club.
‘‘I’m expecting Zeniffe will like the wickets down there; they’re usually pretty batsman friendly and hopefully he can score some runs, which would be good for us at club level.
‘‘It’s a big challenge for Jonty, wicketkeeping for four or five five days with some pretty sharp bowlers and a quality spinner in Liam Evans coming at you. Jonty’s certainly up for it — he’s been in great form for Deni and up at the stumps to Wriggler (Rhinos spinner Anthony Bradley).’’
And brother Isaac?
‘‘He can expect a bit of chin music,’’ Hogan said with a big laugh.
‘‘I think he’s been in reasonable form for Wandella. I know he hit an unbeaten hundred in round one and he’s made another score. It’ll be a good challenge if I get the chance to have a bowl at him.’’
While winning Country Week might not be Hogan’s main focus, the 27 year-old is no stranger to success at the carnival.
He played in Murray Valley’s winning Division Two side in 2016, which saw it promoted to Division One where it finished runner-up last year.
He also played three Country Week carnivals for the former Deniliquin District Cricket Association, losing the Division Two final in 2012 before claiming the title the following year.
Hogan was named man of the match in the 2013 final, knocking up an unbeaten 75 as his side held on to win by seven runs against Northern District.
‘‘That winning 2013 side is one of my best cricket memories,’’ Hogan said.
‘‘We had a really good mix of youth and experience with young guys like Ollie Draffin and Mitch O’Brien, and some older heads like Toddy (current Rhinos skipper Brad Todd), Tim Hillier and Ranji Oliver. There was also Brodie Unwin from Mathoura and Lachy Taylor-Nugent from Jerilderie who both had big carnivals.
‘‘It was a great side and we had a great time. It was exactly what Country Week’s all about.’’