FORMER Test batsman and Victorian legend Brad Hodge will play a one-off game for Newstead Cricket Club later this month.
Hodge, who played six Tests and 25 one day internationals for Australia between 2005-08, will don the whites for the Steaders for their November 17 clash against Muckleford at Newstead Recreation Reserve.
His appearance is part of a club fundraiser to assist the Newstead Primary School to replace its damaged cricket pitch.
The more than 50-year-old pitch has fallen into disrepair and is badly in need of replacement.
Hodge, now 44, represented Australia as recently as 2014 at the ICC World Twenty-20 competition in Bangladesh.
The right-hander will take his spot at the top of the batting order for Newstead, with the opportunity beckoning for one lucky cricketer to join him in opening the innings.
Newstead Cricket Club committee member and groundsman Lachy Park said the club was running a silent auction, with keen cricketers everywhere encouraged to put their best bid forward to win the chance to accompany Hodge at the crease.
"Firstly it was a great thing being able to get Brad Hodge to agree to come out and play a game, but to then turn it into a real community day was even better," he said.
"The cricket pitch, as can happen at a lot of small country schools, can get neglected and finding the funds to fix or replace it can be quite hard.
"Most of the guys who grew up around here (Newstead) don't remember there being a working pitch there.
"Something we have a real emphasis on at the club is engaging the youth especially, realising that's where Newstead's future cricketers will come from.
"If we can help get the money for a pitch, it's a great strat for the kids."
Hodge will line up for a Steaders team, which has posted a few early victories in the Castlemaine District Cricket Association (CDCA).
Bidding for the opportunity to open the innings with Hodge started at $500 and, according to Park, has attracted plenty of early interest.
The successful bidder will be required to obtain a clearance to Newstead for the day as per the CDCA by-laws.
"I'm sure plenty of people will tempted to bid ... it's open to people everywhere across Victoria and Australia," he said.
"We're hoping Hodgey might be able to hit a few around.
"We have a good relationship with the Muckleford Cricket Club, who have been really supportive."
Newstead Primary School Kathy Callander said the club was grateful for the cricket club's support and especially urged school children to attend the game.
"This event is a great opportunity for primary school kids from around the district to come and see a former Test cricketer play," she said.
"The Newstead Primary School is enjoying working with the Newstead Cricket Club to raise funds for a much-needed replacement cricket pitch at the school."
Entry to the November 17 clash is via gold coin donation, with all proceeds going to Newstead Primary School.
Auction bids can be made via email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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