Hodge devastated to miss out on Test team December 13, 2006

Hughes hints Martyn would have played

Cricinfo staff

Brad Hodge was close to replacing Damien Martyn but was ruled out because of injury © Getty Images

Merv Hughes, one of Australia's four selectors, has suggested that Damien Martyn might have held on to the No.4 spot for the rest of the Ashes series had he not retired last week. Addressing a corporate lunch at the WACA on Tuesday, Hughes indicated the theory that Martyn had jumped before he was pushed by the selectors was incorrect.

"From a selector's point of view, we made a decision a long way out that Damien Martyn was the best player to bat No.4 for Australia in this Test series," the Sydney Morning Herald reported Hughes as saying. He also described the reaction from the Australia selectors when Andrew Hilditch relayed the news that Martyn had retired. Hughes said nobody spoke for more than ten seconds until a typically frank David Boon said: "---- what?"

Brad Hodge has also told of his frustration at being out of the running to replace Martyn because of a minor quadriceps strain. Hodge, the last man to bat at No.4 for Australia before Martyn's comeback in March, said he had spoken to Hilditch to see whether he would have beaten Adam Voges and Andrew Symonds into the Test squad.

"I found out that I was close to being selected but the injury ruled me out," Hodge told The Age. "Unfortunately it's the same criteria as [Shane] Watson was ruled out on. I can't explain to you the timing of it, it's pretty devastating. And I don't think I have contemplated the thought of it fully yet.

Hodge averages 67 in the Pura Cup this season after one century and three fifties. He said the injury, which kept him out of Victoria's one-day match against Queensland on Friday - the same day that Martyn announced his retirement - was not serious. "It is harder to take, I guess, because it is one day on which you make these choices," he said. "I actually chose to take [Friday] off because I thought Martyn may play the third Test and I thought I might be a chance for Boxing Day."