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Football v Cricket in Manchester League – Paul Scholes and Kyle Hogg combine at Uppermill

Lancashire Lightning's Kyle Hogg (L) celebrates a wicket in 2009
Lancashire Lightning's Kyle Hogg (L) celebrates a wicket in 2009
Manchester United's Paul Scholes
©Manchester United's Paul Scholes

Famous Fergie time came early for Manchester United legend Paul Scholes as he once looked to marry football and cricket.

The midfield maestro returned to cricket after two decades last summer after having to give up the sport on the demand of Sir Alex Ferguson soon after making his United debut.

Scholes turned out alongside former Lancashire championship winner Kyle Hogg for Oldham side Uppermill, who play in Division One of the Greater Manchester Cricket League.

Hogg is now a coach on Lancashire’s pathway – overseeing both girls’ and boys’ cricket – and believes Scholes’ desire to play multiple sports as a youngster is a path today’s aspiring stars should replicate.

And Hogg said even though Scholes had been away from cricket for so long, it was striking how he was immediately able to problem solve on the field upon his return.

“Paul Scholes played all the T20s with us, and he was brilliant,” said Hogg, who retired from pro cricket in 2014 with a back injury but now bats and bowls “off a few paces”.

“He was an all-rounder who had played for Middleton up until he was 17. In fact, he’d actually made his United debut and played a game for Middleton after that. But Sir Alex Ferguson found out, so he had to finish.

“Before last year, he’d not played cricket for 20 years. But, when he went out to bat, he was looking around the field and quickly assessing where his scoring options were.

“I guess you could almost see the midfielder he was come through. He assessed things so quickly.”

Hogg said Scholes tore a groin in the field and hasn’t returned for 2022. Though his involvement has played a part in influencing the 38-year-old’s views on the progression of talented juniors in sport.

“That was the thing about the past,” he said. “You could play all sports. And I actually think we’re missing a trick now.

“Nowadays, youngsters have to choose between sports much earlier than they ever did. But I’m convinced it would be better for them to play as many different sports as possible for as long as possible.

“Not only would it be good for them to be in a different environment, it would be good for them to not be the best at something. Then you have to figure different things out, deal with failure, all that kind of thing.

“To get as many different experiences has to benefit young players coming through.”

Hogg has certainly had some different experiences in his days.

As a player who signed pro terms with Lancashire on the same day in 2002 as Jimmy Anderson, Hogg went on take more than 330 wickets and score nearly 4,000 runs in a 14-year pro career.

Since then, he has worked as a tour manager for music promoters SJM Concerts and, as a result of Covid, was forced into manual labouring work when the former dried up.

Early last year, he was appointed to the Lancashire coaching staff as the Girls’ County Age Group Performance Manager. His role has evolved since, and he is now a coach who helps out in a number of different areas.

“My main role is helping with the female Academy, the Under 18s girls,” he explained. “There is so much talent there. But I’ll also help (Thunder senior head coach) Paul Shaw out as and when they need me.

“From the end of the month, I’m also going to be doing some of the boys stuff, the Under 18s and Academy. That will be good because, since I finished playing, I haven’t been involved in any of the male side of things at Lancs.

“I’m looking forward to being able to cover both aspects of the club’s pathway.”

Hogg is desperate to continue helping players improve skill wise. He believes enjoyment and simplicity are key to success: “Why is Jimmy Anderson the best in the world? It’s because he hits the top of off-stump more often than anyone else.”

But another aspect of his coaching is to pass on experience of the pitfalls the game has to offer.

“Look at the girls,” he said. “It’s exciting for them at the minute. The female game is sky-rocketing around the world. There’s money to be made.

“With that comes different types of pressures. If you’re a professional who’s paid to play and your mortgage relies on those payments, the pressure can be intense.

“I’ve been lucky enough to achieve the dream we’ve all had as 14 or 15 year-olds, so hopefully that’s an area I can help on both pathways.”

Hogg points to Lancashire Championship-winning coach Peter Moores and ex-England Academy coach, the late Rod Marsh, as significant influences on him.

And he added: “Looking back, it’s only when you come away from it that you realise how much you loved it and how much you’d learnt.

“That could be from bowling at the other end to Glen Chapple or batting in the middle with Shiv Chanderpaul and VVS Laxman. Those are things you just can’t learn on a course.

“Learning on the job is the most valuable tool, and when you come into coaching it’s about passing on what you’ve learnt. I’ve loved it being back with Lancs.”

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