Hoggy's end has been the most sudden. No second chances for him. That seems harsher because he was the stoutest of yeoman, as ingenuous as his haystack of hair. No-one worked harder for his wickets, no-one celebrated them with more childlike delight, and no man hit a better off drive than the one he hit at Trent Bridge on that deathless summer evening. The best eight not out of all time.
His book throws the suddenness of his dropping into sharp relief. His wife had post-natal depression, he and she weren't getting on. He was getting depressed himself, 'doing a Tres, going cuckoo' as he told Vaughan, mid-over. One bad game and it was over. It was more than a dropping, because it came with a tolling bell. They said he'd lost his zip, that indefinable thing. Here one day, gone the next.
The cruelest thing of all is that it was fair, and that can be hard to accept. Hoggy needs a villain, and it seems like it's the ECB. 'We've had the same problems with the ECB since I started international cricket,' he says. 'There were people slagging them off when I first came in and there are people still slagging them off. And it's not the ECB who pick the side anyway. See if you can find a player with a good word to say about the ECB. What are they going to do, sue me for telling the truth?'
So Hoggy's bad guys are not his captain or his coach or the selectors, or even the time and circumstance that robbed him of his form, but the ECB, who can legitimately argue that they provide a stupendous lifestyle with awesome perks while it lasts.
Sadly, it's blame displacement. It's a soft-landing for the mind. The real bad guy here is sport, where one day you're in, and the next day you're out. Twas ever thus. It's hard, even harder when it's a good man like Hoggy, but it's what makes it great.