Chris Gayle leads almost every batting record in the T20 format. If anyone can challenge his supremacy in the shortest version, it is Brendon McCullum or AB de Villiers. There is another one who has accumulated a heap of runs but has hardly received recognition.
Below Gayle in the highest run-scorers’ list and above McCullum is Brad Hodge. With 6998 runs, the Aussie is almost 2000 runs shy of Gayle’s mark but has made an impact as a T20 specialist around the world, albeit away from the glare.
In this edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Hodge will be under focus as he coaches the newly-formed Gujarat Lions.
This will be Hodge’s first stint as full-time coach. Earlier, as captain and assistant coach, he had led the Adelaide Strikers to the semifinal of the Big Bash.
He was registered to be in the IPL players’ auction earlier this year, but pulled out when the coaching role came his way. Starting from scratch, the going was difficult. The Gujarat side, which will be based out of Rajkot, came away with a fine list of players whose match-winning performances made them household names. The squad features big names like Suresh Raina (skipper), Ravindra Jadeja, Brendon McCullum, James Faulkner, Dwayne Bravo and Dale Steyn.
“The hardest thing is starting fresh. Everything’s hard for the administration, management, players – it’s just brand new,” Hodge had said soon after the auction.
“People have to worry about new uniforms, grounds, ticket sales, all those sort of things that every other team pretty much has set in stone – the game plan is there, the recipe is there, they (the settled teams) just have to follow it, whereas we’re sort of up against it,” he had added.
“We had to find 14 players with a limited purse and we only had five (players already signed) while other teams had pretty much a full list. I think we did an exceptional job. I’m really happy with the team. There are some great match-winners there,” the 41-year-old said.
At his disposal are McCullum, Raina, two of the most successful batsmen in the T20 format. Bravo and Jadeja are the other two members of the CSK brigade.
“After spending eight years in a team, changing allegiance is a problem. We have won so many matches there and had so many ups and downs, obviously it feels different to know that you have to play somewhere else for two years,” Raina had said.
As the Lions take the field for their first match against Kings XI Punjab, it will also present its first challenge for Hodge as coach to earn the allegiance of the team, whose heart still beats for the erstwhile team.