Brad Hodge leaves Riders to join Australia squad

May 9th, 2008 - 7:24 pm ICT by admin  

Kolkata/Sydney, May 9 (IANS) Kolkata Knight Riders’ Brad Hodge will join the Australian squad to tour West Indies as a cover for vice-captain Michael Clarke who has delayed his departure for the Caribbean because of the deteriorating health of fiancee Lara Bingle’s father who is battling cancer. Hodge was drafted into the side as Clarke was granted a compassionate leave by the Australian Cricket Board.

The Knight Riders had roped in Hodge after Australian captain Ricky Ponting and New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman Brendon McCullum returned for national duty.

Knight Riders team director Joy Bhattacharya said they have not decided to go for a replacement.

“We have other international players like Salman Butt so we are not yet looking at any replacement for Hodge,” Bhattacharya said.

Clarke’s place in the touring party was first called into question after he withdrew from a pre-tour training camp in Brisbane to return to Sydney. It is also not the first time that he has put family ahead of his career. He had refused to join the Indian Premier League, preferring to be with his father, who is also fighting cancer.

Cricket Australia stated that it was unclear when Clarke would join the squad in the Caribbean and till then Michael Hussey will be Ricky Ponting’s deputy. National Selection Panel chairman Andrew Hilditch said Hodge is an adequate replacement for the three-Test tour.

“Brad has had another strong domestic season with the Victorian Bushrangers in all forms of the game. He is still very highly regarded by the National Selection Panel and this provides him with another opportunity to be involved with the Australian squad.”

The 15-man squad is scheduled to fly out of Australia Saturday for the three-Test tour, starting with a tour match on May 16.

Although details are yet to be finalised, it is anticipated Hodge will join his Australian teammates in either Dubai or London.

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