BRAD Hodge's final practice match before last season's Big Bash League could hardly have gone any worse, as he strained his hamstring and missed the first week of the tournament. This year's final practice match was as good for him as last year's was bad.
Hodge belied his veteran status - he turns 38 later this month - to dominate Melbourne Stars' intra-club match at the MCG on Tuesday.
While key Stars batsmen Luke Wright (40 off 27 balls), Rob Quiney (56 off 47) and David Hussey (33 of 21) each impressed ahead of Friday night's derby against Melbourne Renegades at Etihad Stadium, none could match the impact of Hodge, who clubbed six fours and four sixes before retiring on 68 from just 36 deliveries.
''He's a handy recruit, isn't he?'' Hussey quipped of Hodge, who was poached from the Renegades earlier this year. ''He's got a unique skill. I think he loves being up for the competition too. There's some decent fast-bowlers out there and he really wanted to show them he's still the top dog and can still mix it with the young boys.''
Mainstay paceman Clint Mckay was not spared from punishment from Hodge, nor were South Australian seamer Daniel Worrall, who looks set to replace the injured James Pattinson in the Stars' squad, and ring-in Bushrangers paceman Scott Boland.
The majority of the Stars squad have prepared in international or state-level cricket. Hodge, who is retired from first-class and one-day matches, has instead played in limited-overs tournaments in Hong Kong and New Zealand and also for Melbourne in Premier Cricket.