Australian cricket June 19, 2009

Hodge in harmony with India

When Melbourne police get called into one of the city’s pokey alleys it’s not usually for a happy reason

When Melbourne police get called into one of the city’s pokey alleys it’s not usually for a happy reason. But on Friday there were smiles all round as police took part in a laneway cricket match with members of the Indian community as a show of harmony following the recent attacks on Indian students in Australia.

Cricket Victoria helped organise the event and Brad Hodge was the star attraction at the game, which took place in an arty graffiti-lined lane, and he took special delight in sending down a couple of quicker balls at the police. When he reverted to offspin a ball sailed back over his head and into the crowd of onlookers, so it was lucky the result was secondary to the message Hodge and the other participants were aiming to send.

“Whenever any Australian cricketers go to India, we’re welcomed with open arms,” Hodge said. “Today is about standing alongside Indians who’ve come to Australia and letting them know that we welcome them, and value highly their contribution to our country.”

Amit Menghani, the president of the Federation of Indian Students in Australia, said: "It is wonderful to see such a positive initiative from the cricket community and the Victorian Police. Recent weeks have been extremely tough so it’s most heartening to see cricket helping reinforce the need for mutual understanding and respect. There remains work to be done but even little events like these can go a long way.”

Hodge’s participation was even more appreciated given that his wife Meg is due to give birth “any time now”. In fact, a trip to the maternity ward is so close that Victoria’s coach Greg Shipperd was on standby, ready to step into Hodge’s role in the game should the batsman get an urgent phone-call.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here