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Hodge has Twenty20 pedigree


Australia have lifted the last two 50-over World Cups and are now looking for the first ever ICC World Twenty20 trophy to add to their bulging cabinet.

One of the main men who looks increasingly able to make this happen for his country is Brad Hodge.

The middle-order batsman has played 33 Twenty20 matches - mainly in English domestic cricket - and has made the shortened format his very own art form.

The 32-year-old has been in and out of Australia's Test and one-day sides, but may now find himself as the most crucial member of the team as they aim to do the double.

He said: The Twenty20 World Cup is going to be an interesting time, and who knows what will happen in that?

It is an unknown stage, but hopefully the green and gold come away with another trophy.

Hodge announced his arrival on to the Test match scene with an innings of 203 against South Africa in Perth in only his third Test, but few other scores of note meant he was jettisoned in favour of the younger Michael Clarke at the end of the series.

His one-day international career has been even more frustrating for such an obvious talent, with two unbeaten innings in the 90s and just one hundred in 18 matches, combining with five single-figure scores and just one other over 50.

But in Twenty20 matches he has scored 1,383 runs off just 968 balls with a highest score of 106. His average currently stands at 46.10 and he is the leading runscorer in the history of the Twenty20 Cup, despite playing 10 matches fewer than his nearest rival and ex-teammate Darren Maddy.

The ICC World Twenty20 may give him a much-needed chance to resurrect his international career. Good showings on the world stage may well help him to force his way back into the reckoning for Australia after his personal ICC World Cup 2007 campaign saw him bat only twice in five matches.

His last innings for Australia garnered 123 runs - against New Zealand in Basseterre and he will want to prove that he has finally cracked international cricket when he takes to the crease in South Africa.

Consistency is the one area which Hodge has been lacking in his game, but his Twenty20 record shows a far more auspicious proportion of large scores, which he will be hoping to transfer to the big occasion.

And he has not been short of impressive Twenty20 performances when it matters.

His only hundred in the Twenty20 came in the final of Australia's domestic competition when he led Victoria to the trophy with an innings of 106 in just 54 balls against a New South Wales side which contained a Twenty20 specialist in Cameron White - who is surprisingly not in Australia's squad.

The Twenty20 format is an obvious favourite for Hodge who was captain of the Leicestershire side which lifted the trophy in 2004. He opened the innings and hit 77 not out off only 53 balls in the final against Surrey at Edgbaston, to lead his team to a seven-wicket victory.

He was snapped up by Lancashire in 2005 and was again part of finals day this year, losing out to Gloucestershire in the semis, despite his quickfire 32 off 19 balls at the top of the order.

His fielding is also sharp and athletic, which can prove to be the difference in short games which can be won or lost by minimal margins and is an area which Australia's ageing side has been trying to improve in recent months.

For the world champions to have someone of Hodge's exceptional Twenty20 pedigree in a line-up already capable of beating everyone in their path, it is difficult to see past them lifting their third piece of silverware on September 24 - and Hodge could be a good bet for player of the tournament.

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