When Australia and New Zealand played the first ever Twenty20 international in 2005, players wore body-hugging kits and terry-towelling hats in keeping with a retro theme that captured the novelty of it all.
Nine years on, there is a distinct retro flavour about Australia’s squad for next month’s World Twenty20 in Bangladesh, but nothing gimmicky about the inclusion of the three Brads – Hogg, Hodge and Haddin. At the grand old ages of 43, 39 and 36, their inclusion dispels the notion that Twenty20 is a young man’s game.
Hogg could become the oldest man to play a Twenty20 international in Bangladesh and although he has the boundless energy of a younger man, he is ancient compared with the other specialist spinner, 20-year-old Victorian leggie James Muirhead.
Kenya’s Steve Tikolo, who was 42 when he played against Canada in November, is the oldest player in a Twenty20 international. ”It was good to see there will be someone older than me in the side so I won’t be referred to as grandpa,” said Hodge as his selection in the pivotal finishing role was confirmed.
Hodge’s recall has made him wonder how much cricket he might have played for Australia if Darren Lehmann and John Inverarity had been picking the teams during his lost years.
”Everyone thinks that [it’s a game for young players], but the brain takes over. It’s a special and important tool in T20 cricket,” said Hodge, who has played 222 Twenty20 games for a multitude of teams in India, England, Australia, New Zealand and Bangladesh and is the format’s highest run-scorer.
”It’s a staggering amount, if I haven’t learnt something in that period of time there’s something wrong. Youngsters have to work it out. You ride on your skill and then all of a sudden a few demons enter your head, you’ve got to work it out.”
Hodge felt ”like a 20-year-old” when he broke a six-year international drought at the MCG a fortnight ago. ”When you look back, it hurts a little bit. You think, how can one regime look at it one way and another in a different manner? Runs are runs, performances are performances. But that was the path that was presented. You can’t wind back the clock.”
Hogg was Australia’s oldest player when it was blasted out of the World Twenty20 by Chris Gayle in the 2012 semi-final, and few thought he would be back. But as he turned in a virtuoso performance for Perth Scorchers with 2-17 in the BBL final, Mark Waugh declared he was still the best spinner in Australia.
Nor has the excitable spinner lost any of his cheek.
When Inverarity called, Hogg couldn’t help but tease about a Test comeback. ”I must admit I was a little bit cheeky with it,” Hogg said. ”Shaun’s [Shaun Marsh] obviously gone over there [to South Africa] with Watto [Shane Watson] injured, and I said: ‘So John, has [Nathan] Lyon gone down? You need another spinner for the Test team do you?’
”He said: ‘Don’t get too far ahead of yourself, settle down mate.”’
The selectors completed a hat-trick of golden oldies by picking Brad Haddin ahead of Matthew Wade. There was no room for finger-spinner Xavier Doherty, or for batsmen Chris Lynn, who performed well against England. All-rounder James Faulkner, out of the Test tour of South Africa because of knee surgery, is expected to be fit for the tournament.
The 15-player ICC World Twenty20 squad is:
George Bailey (Capt, Hobart Hurricanes)Dan Christian (Brisbane Heat)Nathan Coulter-Nile (Perth Scorchers)James Faulkner (Melbourne Stars)Aaron Finch (Melbourne Renegades)Brad Haddin (Sydney Sixers)Brad Hodge (Melbourne Stars)Brad Hogg (Perth Scorchers)Glenn Maxwell (Melbourne Stars)James Muirhead (Melbourne Stars)Mitchell Johnson (Brisbane Heat)Mitchell Starc (Sydney Sixers)David Warner (Sydney Thunder)Shane Watson (Brisbane Heat)Cameron White (Melbourne Stars)
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