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McDonald excited by 'phenomenal' Hogg

15 August 2016
Brad Hogg

Renegades recruit Brad Hogg has new coach Andrew McDonald excited // Getty

New Renegades coach is 10 years his junior but can't wait to work with the ageless spinner

By definition, the Melbourne Renegades do things a little differently, but signing a coach almost 10 years younger than their newest recruit is surely a first.

Andrew McDonald became the second-youngest head coach in the KFC Big Bash League's short history last week when he was appointed by the Melbourne Renegades, whose squad has recently been bolstered by the capture of the evergreen Brad Hogg.

McDonald fills one of the vacancies left by new Australia bowling coach David Saker but Cricket Victoria has yet to make a decision on the Victoria coaching role, the other position Saker held.

The 35-year-old former Bushrangers allrounder is in the running for that job but, for the time being, he's delighted at being given the nod for the Renegades and believes the signing of Hogg is a huge coup for the club.

"He just keeps going, doesn't he?" McDonald told cricket.com.au, evidently in awe of the 45-year-old wrist-spinner.

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"He's got great reward for how he looked after his body when he was younger. It's great to see a player continue on at that standard and that level.

"At his age, it's phenomenal.

"We've seen players like Brad Hodge doing the same sort of thing, so age is no limitation when it comes to Twenty20 cricket.

"Cricket smarts often outweigh other skills in the game and Hoggy's a very experienced cricketer and I'm looking forward to working with him."

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McDonald played four Tests for Australia against South Africa in 2009 but had his first-class and international career cut short due to persistent hamstring injuries.

The Albury product has however continued to play Twenty20 cricket and helped the Sydney Thunder to their inaugural BBL title last summer, though he played just the single match in their successful campaign.

But McDonald has found his calling in a post-playing capacity in quick fashion.

In just his second season as coach of struggling England county side Leicestershire, he's taken a team of perpetual also-rans to Division Two promotion-challengers.

While the Renegades' woes haven't been as bad as the Foxes', they have finished in the top half of the table just once in five editions of the BBL and have never made the final of the competition.

McDonald believes his close friendship with former Bushrangers teammate and current Renegades captain Aaron Finch will be vital to turning around the side's fortunes in BBL|06.

"I've worked with Finchy throughout my playing career and even after leaving Victoria, I've continued to do some work with him with his batting," McDonald said of the destructive right-hander.

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"I'm a massive believer that the strength of any cricket organisation is based on that captain-coach relationship.

"So I've worked with and I understand him. I'm really looking forward to that combination and hopefully it'll be a successful partnership.

The Renegades signed a new deal to remain at Etihad Stadium for the next five years and McDonald hopes to take greater advantage of the conditions at the Docklands venue.

The signing of Hogg not only gives them one of the BBL's biggest trump cards but it also provides them with a complimentary spin option to left-arm orthodox tweaker Xavier Doherty.

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McDonald suggests the pair could form a vital partnership on the often low and slow drop-in wickets at Etihad.

"I think it's a fantastic list," he said. "There could be a focus on having some front-line spinners and maybe potentially playing two spinners.

"It's a tactic that's worked for the Renegades in the past. If you think back to BBL|02 under Simon Helmot's guidance (where the Renegades finished top of the table) it was something that worked really well at Etihad Stadium.

"There's lots to think about and I'll sit down with Aaron Finch to work out the direction of where we want to take it."

And while Renegades fans have reason to be optimistic over their side's bolstered spin stocks, the possibility of Test fast bowlers James Pattinson and Peter Siddle making appearances in red this summer also has McDonald excited.

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"They only become available if they're not in the Australia set-up, so we hope that we don't have them," he said, before admitting, "but if we do, it'd be a massive bonus.

"It'd be good to see Jimmy Pattinson up and firing. He's a great spectacle to watch when he is fully fit and I look forward to working with him.

"And Peter Siddle, he just keeps getting the job done. I know he's had a little bit of an injury set-back.

"But the way he works, he'll be back to full fitness in no time so I look forward to working with him as well."

Meg Lanning Steve Smith

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