Stars secure fourth straight win


They speak of Twenty20 as a young man’s game, but the evergreen Brad Hodge, like Ricky Ponting, continues to dispel popular opinion. Two days shy of his 38th birthday Hodge put on a batting master-class, at one of his favourite and most prolific venues, the Adelaide Oval, to help the Melbourne Stars to a crucial win over the Adelaide Strikers. Hodge’s 88 from 58 balls featured ten fours and three sixes, but it was the purity of his timing, the stillness of his head, and the artistry of his placement which made it so much more. He spoke in a pre-game interview of the importance of a 360-degree range of stroke-play for modern batsmen in T20 cricket, and sure enough, like the old pro he is, he walked out and delivered what he spoke about. First he swept Johan Botha to the boundary. Then he uppercut Shaun Tait fine of third man before glancing him wide of fine-leg for consecutive fours in the third over. He drove elegantly through cover and lofted powerfully over long-on. He hit Botha miles into the stands to bring up 50 from just 39 balls. The following over he cut Tait twice, once through backward point, the other through cover, both hitting the fence before the bowler had completed his short follow-through. Hodge eventually fell to a full toss from Matt Johnston, which he drilled straight to deep midwicket, but he had already taken ten from the over with a delicate steer past short third man and a third six crushed into the construction site at long-on. Hodge was supported by small cameos all the way down the star-studded order, to set an imposing total of 8 for 175 after stand-in captain Cameron White chose to bat first.