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'I've fallen in love with the game again' - Hodd

— 12 June 2018

With England wicket-keeper batsman Jonny Bairstow on international duty for the majority of the summer, it means Andrew Hodd will have a good chance of a decent run of first-team cricket prior to retirement.

The 34 year old, who joined Yorkshire on-loan in 2012 from Sussex where he appeared in the County Championship winning sides of 2006 and 2007, faces competition from Jonny Tattersall in white ball cricket, but Chichester-born Hodd is the man with the gloves in the Championship.

Hodd’s move to Headingley, where he has won successive Championship titles in 2014 and 2015, came just at the right time because personally and professionally Yorkshire’s ‘keeper was rock bottom.

“I was ready to pack the game in and I was hating it a little bit,” he said. “I’d fallen out of love with cricket and I was really struggling.

“I arrived on-loan and immediately got on with the then coach Jason Gillespie, Martyn Moxon, the director of cricket, and skipper Andrew Gale whom I knew already.

“ I found that it was the right place. You can say I’ve been really lucky, I’ve found it refreshing and I’ve fallen in love with the game again.

  • “It’s been most enjoyable because we came close to winning the Championship in 2013 and then we won it two years on the trot,” explains Hodd, now in his seventh season at Yorkshire for whom he’s made two Championship appearances this summer against Nottinghamshire and Somerset.

    However, once Bairstow had rested following the stressful tours to Australia and New Zealand, he returned to the side at Hodd’s expense.

    “No one likes sitting out and not playing,” he added. “When I was a youngster I used to get annoyed because you were trying to forge your career, but as you get older, it’s a question of what’s best for the team.

    “In Bluey you’ve got the best wicket-keeper batsman in the world. Having him in is a no brainer and the lads soak up what he brings in in terms of confidence and game management. The youngsters look up to Jonny and Joe Root.

    “Obviously, I don’t see much of Jonny, but when we are together we do talk about keeping, especially standing up to bowlers which is the art of our job and separates the good keepers from the rest.

    “To be honest what Bluey faces in Tests is different to the Championship. He’s playing on good wickets with pace and bounce and keeping to bowlers who swing it at a good pace.

  • “Now, in the Championship, everyone is playing on these green, slow nibblers and I’m keeping to bowlers who are bowling at between 70 and 80 miles an hour. I like standing up, but in these conditions you don’t get the chance and if you go up to the stumps the ball can hit you. But if you stand back, you are in a better position to get the nicks.

    “I’ve not found it hard on the pitches so far.You are not keeping to anyone who’s over 85 miles per hour. It’s much harder on the lower decks when you have to come closer to make sure the nicks carry.”

    As with last season, Yorkshire’s batting has not been of the standard required. Indian star Cheteshwar Pujara, averaging 50.51 in Tests, has been a major disappointment to date with scores of 2, 18, 7,6,9,41,17 and 0, and the others are also struggling on seamer-friendly wickets. For example, Adam Lyth averages 22, skipper Gary Ballance 22.83, Jack Leaning 25 and Harry Brook, the only bat to score a hundred, just over 30.

    But by contrast their seam attack, such as Ben Coad and Jack Brooks, and recently Steve Patterson and Tim Bresnan, has skilfully exploited favourable conditions in the spring.

    He said: “Jack is a consistent performer at this level and his 18 wickets show why. Year on year he has done a superb job and Ben, who was brilliant last summer with 50 Championship wickets, has started well with 23 wickets at 13 each.

    “It would have been easy for him to say ‘ I could do the same again’, but he worked hard during the winter, I’ve noticed more pace when I’ve been keeping and his skill levels are improving, so Ben has got better.”

    Hodd’s recognised as a top class ‘keeper and is no mug with the bat either as he showed by top scoring with 62 in Yorkshire’s first innings against Notts, a knock which helped towards Yorkshire’s win by 164 runs.

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