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Ashes hero Matthew Hoggard opens the Bishop's Stortford College Festival of Literature

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On Friday evening, a cricket-loving audience was bowled over by Matthew Hoggard’s wildly entertaining and inspiring account of his own career. He reminisced about his travels in South Africa, his ascent to the England squad and, in particular, the 2005 Ashes victory.

As no more than an occasional follower of the sport, I felt myself being converted by Matthew’s enthusiasm and sheer passion for cricket. His story was universally engaging, focusing not only on the cricket that has made him so famous but his personal life and the people that supported him through his career.

Matthew also provided insight into the characters of much-loved cricketing icons. His often hilarious array of anecdotes, which included mischievous umpires and drunken all-rounders, provoked cheers, gasps and applause in equal measure from the audience.

Another of the evening’s unexpected triumphs was Matthew’s unrelenting sense of humour.

Someone passing by the College’s Ferguson Lecture Theatre would have been given the impression that a stand-up comedian was performing inside: Matthew’s ability to keep the audience on their toes was remarkable. However, the jokes were far from scripted – he kept the laughs going during the Q&A at the end of the evening, whereby he offered a range of expertise to awestruck fans and young, aspiring cricketers.

It was clear from the evening that Matthew is a highly talented speaker – his humour and down-to-earth demeanour undoubtedly resonated with the audience.

Matthew left the evening on a note about the future: he hopes to start up a barbecue school to train young people in the art of the grill. As for me, I’ll be spending my time watching the Ashes highlights from 2005.

Charlie Hughes

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