Australian veteran Brad Hodge earns surprise T20 recall
Veteran batsman Brad Hodge was recalled to Australia's Twenty20 squad, boosting his chances of playing in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in March-April
Sydney: Veteran batsman Brad Hodge thought his Australia career was long gone before his surprise call-up for the remainder of the Twenty20 series against England. The 39-year-old has not played for Australia for six years, but has been was handed a recall after Moises Henriques was called up as injury cover for the tour of South Africa.
Hodge is the leading runscorer in the history of Twenty20 cricket and has roamed the world as a short-game specialist in recent years. A sheer weight of runs, and solid form in this year's Big Bash League with the unbeaten Melbourne Stars, has prompted a welcomed return to the international stage.
"I never thought this day would happen again," he said. "I never gave up the hope of trying to achieve what I wanted to and that was to play for Australia. I guess I felt if things weren't going to happen before, they certainly weren't going to happen now. "It was a nice pleasant surprise."
The right-hander's selection came as such a shock that he had been planning to spend the week continuing renovation work on the family home. "I woke up and was expecting to do some work on a building site this morning," he said. "I still had to finish that job before I came here.
"I'm reconstructing my house so there's odd jobs that need to be done. It's good for keeping the strength up around cricket season. I've been moving a few bricks, digging a few holes it's part and parcel of the day."
Australia's selectors have been content to pick older players in recent times with 36-year-old opener Chris Rogers vindicating their faith as he led the Ashes whitewash from the top of the order. Leg-spinner Brad Hogg was also called upon at the last World Twenty20, at the ripe age of 41. "There's no stop sign if you get to a certain age, which is nice for us elder statesman I suppose," Hodge said.
"It's a testament to the selection panel. They go it 100 per cent right with Chris Rogers. "I'm a little bit overwhelmed because it is such a surprise after a number of years. "I put my hand out and say thank you to the selectors and the new regime that is welcoming us.
"We've been contributing to cricket for a long time now. It's a nice little reward." Hodge has not been told by coach Darren Lehmann whether he will come straight into Australia's weakened line-up on Friday at the MCG - his home ground.
If he does Hodge admits selection to the World Twenty20 would suddenly become a possibility, especially after spending a couple of seasons in the Bangladesh Premier League with the Barisal
Burners. "My lead-up was Big Bash and IPL, but I guess that will have to change a little bit now," he said.
"It has certainly become a realistic possibility if not a goal (to play at the World Twenty20). "Experience might work for me because I've played in Bangladesh a couple of times before. "I feel like I can contribute with any side I play for."
James Faulkner faces a race against time to be fit for the World Twenty20, which starts in Bangladesh on March 16, after undergoing knee surgery on Tuesday. The all-rounder's injury paved the way for Hodge's call, after he was forced out of the South Africa tour.
Faulkner is set to see the surgeon again on Friday morning to confirm how long he is likely to be on the sidelines, but suggested the World Twenty20 remained in his plans. "Yeah it is," he said.
"I've got to do everything I can to give myself a chance of coming back when I want to come back. "If I don't get that opportunity I'll have to cop it sweet. I'll find out my fate in the first week or so.
"Hopefully it's good news rather than bad news." Faulkner said the operation was done to "tidy up" some floating cartilage in his knee, but refused to be downbeat about missing out on playing against the world's top-ranked Test nation.
"I wouldn't say I'm unlucky. I've had a pretty good run in the last 12 months or so," he said. "I got to play cricket for my country and win a lot of games as well. "I've got to look at the positives. "I've got a couple of weeks on the sidelines now to get myself up and running and try and make the cut for the World Cup squad."