HIS name was frequently mentioned when an Australian Test team was picked, not for being one of the chosen ones but for being left out…again! KEN PIESSE reports:
VICTORIA’S most successful cricket coach, Greg Shipperd, says the controversial omission of Brad Hodge from Australia’s Test team remains “one of the great injustices in Australian sport”.
Speaking at an Australian Cricket Society dinner, Shipperd said: “I can’t explain it and can’t wait for the book!”
Shipperd rated Hodge as Victoria’s greatest cricketer of his era, ahead even of Shane Warne.
“He had the X factor that few possess,” he said.
“He deserved to play more often. That’s the bottom line.”
Hodge’s continuing omissions from Test teams and tours was partly offset late in his career when he was recalled by Australia at Twenty20 level and played into his 40th year.
Just back from coaching in the IPL, Hodge admitted a run-in with Australia’s then captain Ricky Ponting at the MCG during a Sheffield Shield match may not have assisted, but he doubts that his file was marked NEVER SELECT AGAIN.
A father of two, Hodge has ambitions to remain in the game and be a coach at international level.
Few understand the intricacies of Twenty20 cricket like the champion Victorian, widely known as the little Master.
While his Test career was restricted to six Test matches — he was dropped just two matches after making a double century against the South Africans in Perth — Hodge said rather than worrying about the injustice of it all, he was proud to be selected six times for Australia when its top six batting arsenal was as strong as at any time in history.
Shipperd said Hodge’s famed confidence gave the Victorians an air of invincibility and led to countless titles and trophies.
With 10,474 runs, Hodge remains the highest run-scorer in Big V history, ahead of all the icons from Armstrong and Ponsford through to Lawry, Jones and Elliott.
KEN PIESSE’S latest book Australian Cricket Scandals is available in the spring from Wilkinson Books and cricketbooks.com.au
KEN PIESSE has covered cricket and football for more than 30 years in Melbourne. Despite that setback, Ken has written, published and edited 86 books on cricket and AFL football to become Australian sport’s most prolific author.
His latest cricket book is David Warner, The Bull, Daring to be Different with Wilkinson Publishing, out now