DateLine: 20th December 2005
Warren Hegg served Lancashire for 20 seasons and was one of a number of English wicket-keepers of the 1990’s who might reasonably have enjoyed a more substantial international career. As it was, Alec Stewart’s multi-tasking, and to a lesser extent Jack Russell and James Foster, mostly limited him to tours of duty on the county circuit. A chance finally arrived on the Ashes Tour of 1998-9, although his inclusion was firmly understood to be as a back-up to Stewart. However, when Stewart’s batting form at no.4 was disappointing in the first three matches, Hegg was called up for the Boxing Day Test so Stewart could open, and the winning formula in this match meant Hegg retained his place for the Fifth Test at Sydney. His glove work was sound, although his batting failed to fire, and he was dismissed by, amongst others, Steve Waugh and Matt Nicholson. On returning to England Chris Read then overtook him in the battle to oust Stewart from the keeping gloves, although when Stewart unilaterally decided he wasn’t touring India in the English winter of 2001-2, Hegg returned to the fold, although he understudied the far less experienced James Foster, even though the younger man had a bit of a cymbal bashing start to Test cricket. When Foster was ruled out of the 2002 English Test summer with a broken arm, Hegg made his public his distaste that the selectors had rushed straight back to the choosy Stewart, rather than rewarding him for his loyal and uncomplaining service.
Hegg was undoubtedly a key part of Lancashire’s limited-overs dominance of the 1990’s, where his ability to meld unorthodox strokes to a sound batting technique made him a very effective batsman in the closing overs of an innings. He was given the Old Trafford captaincy in 2002, although in his three seasons at the Lancashire helm he followed in the long line of recent Red Rose captains who have been unable to turn the wealth of playing talent at his disposal into a Championship winning outfit. However, in finishing third and then second in 2002 and 2003 respectively he came mighty close. An injury sustained at Chelmsford in early September 2005 robbed Hegg of a deserved final send off at Old Trafford, although that was a small disappointment in a very full career. Despite his international career being a short one, he at least is in the very select band of recent Test players who can say they have won a Test match on Australian soil.
(Article: Copyright © 2005 Matthew Reed)
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