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Hodd grabs chance with both hands

cricket Updated: Jul 11, 2007 03:12 IST
Rohit Mahajan
Rohit Mahajan
Hindustan Times
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Andrew Hodd is biding his time — with Matt Prior keeping wickets at Sussex, Hodd's opportunities to turn out for the county club where he practically grew up and learnt his trade, are rather limited.

But the young man does have a gift for the game, apart from a temperament that should see him get many more centuries — he got his maiden first-class ton on Monday, in his 12th game at this level. There were celebrations in the dressing room — it is being seen as a statement of intent from a man expected to don the keeping gloves for England one day. At just 23, he has time on his side.

After becoming the first man to take a century off the Indian attack on the tour, Hodd still had words of praise for the bowlers. "They bowled really well, Sreesanth and RP Singh," he said. "It's not a good wicket for them, it's quite slow. They still put the ball in the right areas and I was quite happy to bat through."

"It was their first outing here, they've adapted very quickly to the conditions," he added. "They've got good wrists which they use very well, which we do not really get so often here."

Hodd was delighted with his ton, but not quite over the moon --- he insisted that it was a very good pitch to bat on, and that the Indian bowlers would get better wickets in Test matches.

"But it's great to get my first ton against an international attack," he said. "I have not really played much first-class cricket. To get a chance and to take it, it really feels very good."

He had cheerful words for the Indian bowlers, though. "The Test wickets would be more in their favour, they will be much quicker," he said. "Both their batsmen and bowlers would find them much easier. There would be more sideways movement, the seamers might will more nicks and edges."

And the spinners? "Well, Anil Kumble will just take wickets wherever!" Hodd gushed. "I'm privileged here at Sussex for I play with Mushtaq Ahmed, and he's helped my game against spin quite a lot. Kumble is a whole different kind of leg-spinner, he's just brilliant."

Hodd himself is not your run-of-the-mill county cricketer. He was part of Sussex's junior program and excelled at every level, but he was behind Prior and Tim Ambrose in the wicketkeeping stakes, so he moved to Surrey three years ago. He came back last year, after Ambrose himself moved, deciding that a shift to Warwickshire, out of Prior's large shadow, would help him bloom.For now, Hodd knows his place --- "Yes, I know I'm an understudy to Matt Prior," he says. "I'll have to do a lot more batting, hit a few more knocks like this one. And you never know…"