Australian news October 20, 2010

Two-ton Hodge not weighed down by slim ODI hopes

Most state batsmen would be waiting by the phone for a national call-up if they started the summer with two unbeaten one-day centuries, especially with a series against Sri Lanka starting shortly. Not Brad Hodge. Once upon a time, he might have seethed at being again overlooked for Australian duties; now, at 35, all he cares about is spending time with his children.

That's one of the reasons he gave up first-class cricket last season and he is clearly enjoying life as a limited-overs specialist. He began this summer with 134 not out at the WACA and followed it with an unbeaten 140 against Queensland, which was one of the great lone-hand efforts in Australia in recent years. Still, Hodge would be flabbergasted if he ever plays for Australia again.

"I've booked a holiday to Queensland, so if it coincides with that I might have to knock that opportunity back," Hodge said of the Sri Lanka one-dayers. "We'll wait and see. All this speculation and talk about me playing at the higher level is a bit baffling to me. But I guess my performance speaks volumes and that's where it's come from.

"I don't really sit there any more and digest how I'm going to represent Australia, put it that way. All I really think about is what sort of sauce I'm going to put with my sirloin and whether I'm going to have a shiraz or a pinot noir."

Of course, if his purple patch extends to four or five hundreds in the next few weeks, the calls for his reinstatement to the ODI side will grow louder. There has always been a strong pro-Hodge campaign from the Victorian fans and media, and his recent performances pushed "#bradhodge4australia" into Twitter's trending topics for Melbourne.

Even the Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland, a former team-mate of Hodge, said on Tuesday: "I would hate to think he's out of contention because clearly he's one of the form players in the country at the moment". But with a World Cup coming up in February and young batsmen preferred, the selection panel probably won't allow Hodge to add to his 39 games for Australia.

"It would be nice to be able to fit into the right people's minds," Hodge said. "I know there are a lot of Victorians that get behind me and support me 100%. That's lovely, it's all good and well and it's fascinating that there are these Twitter sites and all this backing.

"But if you haven't got the backing of the captain and the four selectors who want you in there, it doesn't matter. Four people choose your fate - it's as simple as that. If they don't want you in, you're not in."

Hodge will do some international travel this summer, having signed with Northern Districts for New Zealand's domestic Twenty20 competition. But he has no regrets about giving up the first-class scene to spend more time with his wife and two young children, a decision that means he can relax while the Bushrangers take on Tasmania in the Sheffield Shield next week.

"I'm going to go up to Queensland and take my kids to the theme parks and have some fun, enjoy some time with my wife, and the other guys can field for 100 overs in the Sheffield Shield match," he said. "To me, that sounds like a pretty good deal."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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