Hodge backs Anderson to regain England place

Published: Saturday, May 7, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Manchester:Brad Hodge, after spending one-day in the field with Lancashire team-mate James Anderson, backed the pace bowler to regain his place in the England Test side.

Australia batsman Hodge, whose arrival at Lancashire had been delayed by his recovery from a hernia operation, played for the county for the first time Friday as Derbyshire were dismissed for just 215 on the first day of their County Championship match at Old Trafford.

He was well-placed, at slip where he caught two catches, to watch as Anderson took four for 62 on a day where Lancashire took command by reaching 65 without loss at the close.

Anderson, 22, has spent much of the past 12 months bowling at a single stump as England's regular net bowler, narrowly missing out on a Test place while his repeated inclusion in the national squad has often deprived him of the chance to play for his county.

During England's recent tour of South Africa, Anderson again found himself in a standby role apart from one disappointing Test appearance and so is unlikely to be included for the first Test of the domestic season against Bangladesh starting at Lord's on May 26.

It is a far cry from impact he made when, having played a handful of county games, he was called into England's one-day squad back in 2002 and immediately set about making an impact with his lively outswing bowling.

However Hodge, who will leave Lancashire in mid-summer to join up with Australia's Ashes squad, believes Anderson can reclaim his place, even as soon as this season.

"I would have thought his chances of getting back into England's Test side are pretty good," said Hodge on Saturday.

"He has done well before at that level and he seems to have that fire that could easily upset a few Australian batsmen. He is a determined person and he is the type of player you would want to have in your squad, definitely."

Anderson received some heavy duty treatment from Graeme Hick last week before receovering as Lancashire win away to Worcestershire.

And Hodge added: "I was really impressed with the way Jimmy bowled yesterday (Friday) - I thought he bowed really well. I have been told that he did not have his best game down at Worcester, but he has bounced back beautifully."

"He hit the stumps, got a couple of edges and could have had a couple more and I am sure he is getting back to his best form now. He bowled it at really good pace and I am sure he can bowl a fair bit quicker, but we were standing a fair way back in the slips."

Hodge also explained how he had met Anderson before several years ago when he was playing Lancashire league cricket with Ramsbottom and came up against the pace bowler, making his way with Burnley.

"That is the first time I have really seen him since I played league cricket against him around eight years ago," Hodge said. "It is the first time I have seen him since then and I was very impressed.

"I can't remember too many details about that game for Ramsbottom, but I know he didn't get me out. He did bowl a beamer (an illegal head-high full-toss) at me, though, and mentioned that to me when I first walked into Old Trafford the other day."

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