Australian cricket team always possessed deep reserves of batting talent over the years. For instance, a player of the calibre of Brad Hodge played in the shadows of Australia’s talismanic captain Ricky Ponting.
Moreover, Hodge turned out to be a legend of Australia’s domestic cricket. The Victorian is fondly remembered for his blistering knocks in the Big Bash League (BBL), representing the Adelaide Strikers and Melbourne Renegades.
Hodge also displayed his utility with the bat in the IPL while donning the colours of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR), Kochi Tuskers Kerala and then Rajasthan Royals (RR).
Now, former RR captain and mentor, Rahul Dravid has explained the rationale behind convincing the franchise owners to go for Hodge during the IPL auctions.
Hodge played a few scintillating cameos, coming lower down the order, finishing the innings for the Royals.
“After RCB, I moved on to RR and I got into more of a captain-coach-management role and we were looking through a lot of data and stats. At RR, we were literally a Moneyball team. We had to compete with the top teams with 40-60 per cent of the budget. It’s not easy in an environment where everyone has a lot of data and knowledge,” Dravid said on the Insights vs Insights panel discussion.
“One of the things we noticed was Brad Hodge… had a phenomenal T20I record in Australia and had probably played 5-6 IPLs, and had a very average or poor record in India. Once we looked at the data closely, we sort of realised why he was struggling in India. He was clearly a player who was very good against fast bowling but wasn’t very good against, say, left-arm spin bowling and leg-spin. But he had an incredible strength of being good against fast bowling.” he added.
Looking at Hodge’s weakness against spin, Dravid’s masterstroke involved him sending him lower down the order, against death bowlers.
“One of the things we looked at was, which is the position of the game where someone like Hodge will play only fast bowling, and we sort of looked at the last four-five overs where everyone brings their best death bowlers back into the game. We decided at that stage that we will buy him in the auction, and bat him in the last 5-6 overs in the match,” Dravid concluded.