Hodge on a high for T20 World Cup
Nearly a decade ago, Brad Hodge was told by Australian selectors he was over the hill and his limited-overs international career was finished.
The stinging appraisal was delivered with Australia looking at rejuvenating its team ahead of the 2007 World Cup, in which they claimed a fourth title.
Now, aged 39, the prolific runscorer is a vital component of Australia’s Twenty20 World Cup campaign in Bangladesh and is revelling in his role as the team’s “death batsman”.
Hodge admits the feedback hurt at the time, but his belief in his ability to play at the top level never wavered.
“It’s a huge shift in thinking,” Hodge said ahead of Australia’s opening match against Pakistan in Dhaka on Sunday.
“I got told (by a selector) at 30 years of age that I would never play one-day cricket or limited-overs cricket for Australia again.
“I look back now and think, nine years later, it sort of hurt a bit. I thought what a premature call that was.”
Hodge praised the approach of Australian cricket under new coach Darren Lehmann to bring back in-form veterans, which has also seen the impressive return of opener Chris Rogers to the Test team.
“It can only come down to the change in the (selection) panel: Lehmann, (captain) Michael Clarke, (and selector) Rod Marsh I would assume has a fair call,” he said.
“(Selector Andy) Bichel has seen me all around IPL and those sort of things.
“Chris Rogers averages 50 in first-class cricket so it’s not surprising we have come in and had an impact in this short period.
“The motive is that we want to win and we want to win every tournament – to do that you need to get the best players in.
“It’s a pretty simple formula I would have thought.”
Hodge has embraced his role as a late middle-order batsmen whose job is to close out an innings – or win matches at the death.
It is a task he was given by Rajasthan Royals mentor Rahul Dravid, and one he was wary of at first but has grown to love.
“They had a strategy that the top bowlers bowl at the start and at the end,” Hodge explained.
“(Dravid’s) theory was for me to face those guys at the back end of the innings.
“I said to him ‘that’s good but I think you are missing a trick – you are only asking me to face 20 balls; if I faced 50 I could get 100 and win a game’.
“But the facts were that over the course of the year I probably won three to four games batting down the order whereas maybe I would have only won one or two at the top.”