Australian cricket is at, arguably, the lowest point in over a decade, dating as far back to their outstanding World Cup victory on June 20th 1999. Since that memorable day at the home of cricket, Lord’s, no fewer than 47 men have made their One-Day International (ODI) debut for the green and gold, ranging from a 150 game superstar in Michael Hussey, right down to a 2 game under-achiever in Moises Henriques. Of these 47 players, none may consider themselves more unlucky than Brad Hodge, who has managed just 25 ODI’s since his debut against New Zealand on December 3rd 2005.
Hodge, who has also played 6 Test Matches and 8 Twenty20 Internationals, was unceremoniously dumped from the Australian Test team, despite an impressive record of 503 runs at an average of 55.88. The reasoning given at the time was that his technique was flawed and was, at times, ‘too loose’ to be a Test Match batsman. Whether this is actually the case or not is something that can be left for another argument, the issue in discussion here is his lack of opportunities he has received in the ODI team.
Despite his technique being blamed in the longer version of the game, no reason has officially been given for his absence from ODI’s over the years, largely due to the fact that an excuse of ‘looseness’, simply doesn’t apply to ODI’s where shot-making is the key to success. Examples of this include ODI champions in Andrew Symonds (who I might add received more Test Match opportunities than Hodge) and Cameron White, both of which are attacking and at times, even reckless in the shorter version of the game.
The last last time Hodge played for Australia, on October 17th 2007, John Howard was Australia’s Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd was simply a friendly bloke promising to say sorry, and Julie Gillard was an unknown red-head from the Western Suburbs of Melbourne. A closer look through the list of batsman given an opportunity at ODI level since Hodge last played makes the scenario seem even more profound, as highlighted below;
Phil Jacques: 6 games, 125 runs @ 20.83
David Hussey: 23 games, 598 runs @ 28.47
David Warner: 7 games, 106 runs @ 15.14
Marcus North: 2 games, 6 runs @ 3.00
Moises Henriques: 2 games, 18 runs @ 9.00
Steven Smith: 9 games, 139 runs @ 27.80
When these records are compared to that of Hodge’s 575 runs at 30.26 (including one century), it’s clear to see why both his fans and himself alike are continually left bemused and frustrated.
As highlighted, a lot has changed since Hodge last played, however one thing remains the same, he continually scores big on the Domestic circuit both here in Australia and also in England. In addition to his impressive ODI’s statistics, Hodge has scored no less than 8,669 runs in his ‘List-A’ career, at an outstanding average of 43.56. This includes recent Australian Domestic campaigns of;
352 runs @ 50.28 in 2007/08
311 runs @ 38.87 in 2008/09
622 runs @ 69.11 in 2009/10
414 runs @ 138.00 in 2010/11
There are those who claim that given Hodge’s age (35), his time playing for Australia is well and truly over, and in addition to this, it is often said that statistics don’t often tell the true story. However in the case of Brad Hodge, the statistics simply don’t lie and selectors need to take notice of the sheer volume of runs he scores at Domestic level and the impressive record he already has whilst playing for Australia.
With this in mind, Greg Chappell and his fellow selectors need to ensure Hodge plays in Australia’s World Cup campaign later in the summer, or the chances of winning our fourth straight world title will be greatly diminished.