Brad Hodge has an outstanding Twenty20 record in county and state cricket © Getty Images
Brad Hodge, the Australian batsman, will miss the next five weeks of the county season with Lancashire after signing for the Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL. It is a move that has come out of the blue and the player only learnt of the approach within the last 48 hours.

Hodge is the leading scorer in Twenty20 cricket worldwide with 1649 runs at 42 and a strike-rate of 139 from 47 matches. "I was approached only 24-48 hours ago and I'm still in shock at the opportunity that has been presented," he said.

"Twenty20 is a format that I really enjoy and have a good record in, and to be part of the inaugural IPL tournament is something most cricketers would find hard to turn down. It's been an extremely difficult decision to make, but Lancashire have been very understanding of my situation and I hope to repay them on the field when I return."

"Brad is arguably one of the best Twenty20 players in the world," said Jim Cumbes, the Lancashire chief executive. "Although it's disappointing to be losing a player of his calibre for part of our season, we are very lucky at Lancashire to have depth in our squad and this is a great opportunity for someone else to step up to the plate."

Hodge will join his Victoria team-mate David Hussey at Kolkata, who will lose Brendon McCullum to New Zealand's tour of England at the end of the month and Ricky Ponting to a training camp. He will leave after Lancashire's current Championship game against Somerset and the first match he misses is the Friends Provident Trophy clash against Scotland. Lancashire have no current plans to bring in another overseas player for the period Hodge is away.