Monday, November 30, 2009

Hodge retires from first-class cricket

Cricket Australia has confirmed that Victoria's champion batsman Brad Hodge is retiring from first-class cricket. He will play just two more Sheffield Shield matches for the ladder-leading Victoria, his final four-day match for the Bushrangers to start on December 18 against New South Wales. Hodge will remain available for one day matches and Twenty20 games.

The prolific 34 year-old right-hander has officially stepped down in order to spend more time with his young family, and his wife, who has health issues, but his frustration at not being selected for the Australian Test team was pivotal to the decision.

Hodge will speak about his decision at a press conference at 11.30am this morning.

On the Cricket Australia website, Hodge is positive about his new direction: "It's been a wonderful journey, which hopefully has more to go at limited-overs and Twenty20 level. I've loved every time I've pulled on the navy blue cap and it was a dream come true to swap it for a baggy green for the times I did. Playing Test cricket for Australia was an incredible experience and I feel proud and blessed to have had that opportunity."

"Hopefully this decision will allow me to continue playing good cricket and also spend more time with my young family."

Ex-temamate and current Cricket Victoria chief executive Tony Dodemaide, also quoted on the game's official site, said: "Brad Hodge has been a champion player for Victoria who has achieved almost every honour available."

"Throughout his career he has shouldered the bulk of the batting responsibilities, maintaining an excellent record and playing a huge role in Victoria's success over that time. He's set high standards for himself and the team and performed strongly at Test level. Hopefully he can add to his appearances at international level and continue to contribute strongly to the Bushrangers in the shorter versions of the game."

Hodge's retirement is part of a trend of older cricketers to bow out of longer forms of the game in order to maximise earnings in Twenty20 cricket in their twilight years, particularly as the shorter form of the game is less taxing upon the body. England's Andrew Flintoff and former Australian star Andrew Symonds both took this route last season despite remaining viable Test players.

Hodge, who has played for many years in England, representing Durham, Leicestershire and Lancashire, is likely to command big money playing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the Indian Premier League and English domestic short form cricket for several years.

He ends his six-Test career with an average of 55.88, having last played for Australia in a Test in May 2008, contributing two crucial innings, of 67 and 27, on a difficult pitch in Kingston Jamaica.

He had a top Test score of 203 not out, made against South Africa in Perth in December 2005, but was passed over for nearly his entire career despite a stellar record at domestic level. His snubbing at the selection table has never been explained by national selectors.

Hodge averaged 73.41 and 61.77 in 2003/04 and 2008/09, when Victoria won the Shield title, and he has averaged 102 in the first two games of the Sheffield Shield season.

His absence, and the call-up of in-form paceman Clint McKay to the Test squad, will test the depth of the Victorians, who are six points clear at the top of the Shield ladder.


Hodge has scored the most runs for Victoria in first-class cricket, 11,278 at an average of 47.39. Dean Jones is next best with 9622 at 54.05.

Hodge has played 222 first-class matches making 17,012 runs at an average of 48.88 with 51 centuries and 63 ffities.

In one-day matches, he averages 41.80, with 23 centuries and 35 fifties.

In 73 Twenty20 matches Hodge averages 40.10 with one century and 17 fifties.

Hodge has played 25 one day matches for Australia, averaging 31.33, with one century and three fifties.

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