Matthew Hoggard: It's a knockout: How Haye fight and a kids' punchbag led to my torn tendon and six weeks off
What I Learnt This Week
Saturday 09 July 2011
David Haye might not have been able to land a telling punch last weekend, but I did. Unfortunately. Now, instead of looking forward to trying to help Leicestershire during a crucial part of our season, I'm in plaster up to my elbow and out for the count for something like four to six weeks.
We had gone to a friend's house where we were planning to watch the Haye v Klitschko title fight on pay per view, only to find that the phone number we needed to ring was jammed solid. So we decided to make our own entertainment instead – with a kids' punchbag.
Now, like quite a lot of cricketers, I have done a few boxing routines inside the ring as part of training. But this was nothing like that. The punchbag was so light that if you hit it anywhere near the top it toppled over.
It all seemed so innocuous and I reckon I could probably punch the thing hundreds of times and do absolutely no damage. Somehow, though, one blow went horribly wrong and the upshot is that I've torn a tendon in my right wrist. And that is not good news at all when you are a right-arm bowler.
I feared the worst there and then but hoped it would feel better in the morning and I'd be able to play in our T20 game against Northants last Sunday. No chance. And even though an X-ray came back clear I was still pretty sure I had done something nasty and suggested having a scan. Sadly, I was right.
At the moment, no one really knows how long I'll be out of action. I've got to keep the "pot" on for another couple of weeks and then they'll decide what happens from there but we're hoping I'll be playing again in four to six weeks.
I just keep wondering how on earth I have injured myself like this by punching a kids' punchbag. I wouldn't have believed it possible, until now. Then when you hear things like surgery perhaps being necessary if it doesn't heal properly and even, in the worst scenario imaginable, that I might not be able to bowl again, you think: "What?"
Thankfully, the experts don't believe it is going to be that serious but it still makes you appreciate what could have happened as a result of doing something which, frankly, I wouldn't be scared of doing again.
Yes, part of me does think, "What an idiot", for injuring myself in this way but then I also take the view that you cannot wrap yourself in cotton wool. Of course, you make sure you don't do stupid, dangerous things, but hitting a kids' punchbag is nothing, is it?
Still, I suppose I've made quite a high entry on the list of bizarre injuries suffered by cricketers. I cannot be above Michael Vaughan in the top 10, though, because he once managed to damage his knee while playing on PlayStation. Enough said!
As for me, here I am at home with just the two dogs for company because my wife, Sarah, and son, Ernie, have gone abroad for a fortnight's holiday with Sarah's folks. So if anyone has any work this month for a one-armed bowler, please get in touch.
2. Timing could not be worse as I'll miss the Twenty20 quarter-finals
Being sidelined is never much fun, but the timing of this injury seems particularly cruel because we have been playing some terrific cricket in the T20 competition and are guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals (which I seem likely to miss). Unlike last year, teams who reach the knockout stage can dream of playing in the Champions League in India this autumn, but while that is a carrot it is not something we've really talked about at Leicester because it is still a long way off.
In order to join the world's best domestic T20 teams you have to win a quarter-final and a semi-final because only England's winners and runners-up will go to India – and then when you are there you have to get through a qualifying tournament to make the Champions League proper.
As far as we are concerned, it is a case of taking it one step at a time. Start looking further ahead than the next game and you're asking for trouble because one bad performance and it's all over.
In theory, though, I'm sure Leicestershire would be more than happy to go to India for the qualifying tournament, despite the fact it starts immediately after the end of our season. Something like that would be too good an opportunity to turn down.
3. Three wickets in your first over! Enough, Jigar, you're coming off
Funny old game, this T20. And I'll give you a couple of examples from the last week in support of that statement.
Firstly, Arul Suppiah, who generally earns his living as an opening batsman for Somerset, claimed a world record by taking six wickets for five runs against Glamorgan. And secondly, Jigar Naik, who was having his first bowl for us in this year's competition, took three wickets in an over against Yorkshire.
Not only that, it was Naik's first over. And, even better, he was then taken off!
4. Player behaviour must improve or we will end up like football
I've not been the only county captain forced into a watching role this week. But while injury did for me, disciplinary issues accounted for Essex's James Foster, with the former England wicketkeeper suspended for two matches because of his team's record of poor behaviour over the past year.
These days, not many weeks – if any – go by without the ECB announcing that somebody or other has been found guilty of dissent, or something similar, in the county game. And that must mean that either behaviour is worsening on the circuit or umpires are more eager to complain.
Personally, I think players must take the blame. Perhaps the Decision Review System now used in international cricket has had some effect, with batsmen and bowlers in the domestic game occasionally feeling aggrieved that they cannot ask for a referral when they believe they've had a bad decision, but that's not really an excuse.
I quite often take the mickey out of umpires or have a go at them, but I try to do it in a humorous way rather than by snarling. After all, there's absolutely no point in getting narky or aggressive because they won't change their decision and you're just going to get on the wrong side of them.
There's always been chat between opposing players and between players and umpires. But the tone of some of it has changed for the worse. Maybe cricketers these days see footballers mouthing off and getting away with it and think they can do the same.
But I would say it is time to remember what we mean when we talk about the spirit of cricket. The last thing we want, I would hope, is for our game to follow football down the road to endless dissent.
Hopefully, the Essex punishment will give everyone a sharp reminder. There is plenty of room in cricket for banter but when it gets to shouting and pointing at opponents or being disrespectful to umpires, then that's when the line is crossed.
5. Cookie on boil but he should be more flexible with batting order
Now where were we in that debate about whether or not Alastair Cook could cut it as a one-day batsman? Well, he certainly did not look like a plodder against Sri Lanka this week – and I could not be more delighted for him. Cookie is a terrific player, a very level-headed individual and you could not wish to meet a nicer bloke so I'm very happy he has been busy proving his critics wrong. But that is not to say that everything about England's batting is now beyond improvement.
The real discussion point concerns the order in which they come to the crease, especially as we have two very similar players, in Cook and Jonathan Trott, in the top three.
I certainly do not think, as some have said, that Trott needs to be dropped. For goodness sake, he has been our most successful one-day batsman so far this year. But he doesn't always have to bat at No 3.
If England lose Craig Kieswetter early on and they are playing on a pitch where it is hard to play proper cricket shots the danger is that, with Cook and Trott together in the power play, the innings stagnates. But that is where England need to be more flexible.
At Leicester, for example, we may have four people padded up and ready to go in depending on when a wicket falls and who is out. There is no law that says you have to stick to your original batting order but England seem reluctant to change, which is a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face.
It would have been interesting to see what order they would have used at Trent Bridge on Wednesday but in the end they didn't need to do anything because Cook and Kieswetter did the job all by themselves. Maybe we will see some signs of flexibility at Old Trafford today.
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