Hodd an odd beneficiary of KP saga
Yorkshire 127 for 2 (Lyth 60*, Gale 47) v Derbyshire
The implications of the Kevin Pietersen affair have been widespread within English cricket, but Andrew Hodd stands to benefit most from the controversy. Frustrated and nearing the end of his contract at Sussex, an unexpected opening at Yorkshire has given him four matches to prove himself worthy of a permanent deal.
Until last week, Hodd, 28, was facing an uncertain future having not played a championship match for Sussex all season. The selectors' decision to drop Pietersen for the final Test changed all that, however, when Yorkshire suddenly found themselves without a wicketkeeper for the climax to a season they hope will culminate in promotion.
Jonny Bairstow's recall to the Test squad as Pietersen's replacement and Yorkshire's decision to release Gerard Brophy, his deputy, prompted an immediate loan approach for Hodd, who has four championship fixtures to help in the promotion bid and possibly earn himself a long-term deal.
"I've been speaking to Martyn Moxon (Yorkshire's Director of Cricket) for a month now with a view to maybe something happening the end of this year or next year," Hodd explained. "They were very low key chats, but suddenly on Sunday night I got a phone call saying that Gerard had retired and asking if I would come up. I jumped at the opportunity.
"I just want to play some cricket. It's never good not playing, although no one is playing at the moment with the weather the way it is. I am sure Johnny Bairstow will go well and hopefully it will open up a door for me."
He looks certain to be given further chances to impress. Bairstow is unlikely to feature again for Yorkshire in the championship before the end of the summer. England have five one-day internationals and two Twenty20 internationals against South Africa, before flying straight off to the World Twenty20 tournament in Sri Lanka.
Hodd's debut, like most of Yorkshire's season, was badly interrupted by the weather. Facing Derbyshire, leaders of Division Two, at Headingley, only 30.1 overs were possible before heavy rain halted play just after lunch with Yorkshire handily placed on 127 for 2.
Derbyshire's 26-point lead looked unlikely to be threatened after Phil Jacques was bowled shouldering arms to Tim Groenewald in the fourth over that may have kept a little low. But given favourable conditions, the bowlers failed to exploit the conditions and allowed Adam Lyth and Andrew Gale to add 87 in only 20.3 overs.
Gale, the Yorkshire captain, looked on course to claim only his second championship half-century of the summer after racing to 47 off 69 balls, including seven fours. Most of his runs were helped by Derbyshire sticking to a leg-stump line, which paid off in the end when he got a top edge attempting to pull Ross Whiteley and picked out fine leg only 25 minutes before lunch.
Only one delivery was possible after the interval, continuing a theme for Yorkshire's summer. They have played only 128 hours of championship cricket out of a possible 294 and, with further rain forecast during this match, may struggle to force the positive result that will help their promotion challenge.
The extra time spent in the dressing room will, at least, have given Hodd more time to assimilate himself into the Yorkshire culture. He has not played a first-class match since featuring for Sussex against Warwickshire in July last year, since when Ben Brown has been preferred as their wicketkeeper.
He does not believe it will take him long to become used to playing first team cricket again. He has been signed only for championship cricket with Yorkshire giving Dan Hodgson, a 22-year-old who has been playing for Leeds-Bradford MCCU, experience keeping in their remaining CB40 matches.
"You don't just want to sit in the second team, you want to play, score some runs and feel good about yourself," Hodd said. "I just want to make the most of the next 16 days or so.
"With cricket you just try and play the ball and even in the second team this summer I will have faced good bowlers at certain times. Playing at first-class level is a bit more relentless, you will face better spells for a longer duration but I'm just hoping I'll be up to it - I've got that hunger to do well."