Hodge is Twenty20 smasher

Source - manchestereveningnews.co.uk

When it comes to Twenty20 Brad Hodge has seen it, done it and bought the t-shirt.

He has won competitions in England and Australia three times with Leicestershire and Victoria - and he is regarded as the best 20 over player in world cricket.

In fact, he has even told the Australian selectors that he is the best as they formulate their plans ahead of September's inaugural Twenty20 World Cup in South Africa.

"Yeah, I have told the selectors that I'm one of the best," he says with a cheeky chuckle. "Whether they go with that I'm not sure, but on record I should be in the starting line up."

That record includes three titles, one final winning hundred and 21 crucial wickets with his effective off-spin.

On Friday night, Hodge starts his crusade to put four winner's medals on the mantelpiece when Lancashire Lightning take on Durham Dynamos at Old Trafford in the opening game of the 2007 competition.

"I would like to think that we have a real good chance of winning it this year. If we play well and click, then we will not be too far off," he said.

"It's a competition that anyone can win it. If you get on a roll, you will be hard to stop."

The Victorian's first title came when he captained Leicestershire to the crown at Edgbaston in 2004.

And, ironically, he will come up against the Foxes in the last game of the group stages at Old Trafford.

And his last title came as recently as January when he captained Victoria to success against Tasmania at the MCG. But it was perhaps the middle triumph against New South Wales in 2006 that really made people sit up and take note of his aptitude for the format He cracked a monstrous 106 off just 54 balls to set NSW 234 to win.

"It was 106 off 54 balls, and it was just good fun," he recalls. "I could walk away thinking that it was a real good game - the fact that we won made it even better.

"I remember opening the batting when a guy called Moses Henriques bowled me a bouncer that caught me by surprise. It would have hit me flush in the teeth had I not had a helmet on.

"It fired me up a little bit, and from that point on I just wanted to smash him. I wanted to smash everyone. What better game to be able to get your aggression out. It kick-started the innings - I didn't plan to do that, but it just happened in an instance."

Despite all his success in the game, this campaign with the Red Rose outfit is exciting him more than ever before.

He has the chance to win his first piece of top flight silverware with Lancashire - and to help him do it will be the Sri Lankan master blaster Sanath Jayasuriya.

"How much fun is he gonna have in Twenty20?" Hodge questions. "He will just clobber a few over the fence and then get a few wickets to boot.

"It's gonna work wonderfully well. He's hard to hit in normal one-day cricket, he has got such good knowledge - what a great signing.

"It's gonna be good for team morale too. That's why the club have signed him - it's a chance to inspire everyone. I think that's the reason why they haven't just gone for anyone - they have replaced one legend with another."

Jayasuriya may well have brought that wow factor to Old Trafford - but he will have to go some to upstage Hodge over the next few weeks.

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