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Hughes and Hodge push their way in


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Redback’s batsman Phil Hughes is on the plane to South Africa to join the national team after the injured Shaun Marsh failed a fitness test.

National selector John Inverarity said: “As Shaun Marsh’s calf injury has not improved as much as required over the past four days, he has been withdrawn from the Test squad …

“Phillip Hughes had been placed on standby and now comes into the Test squad as a replacement for Shaun. Phillip will head to South Africa as soon as possible.”

Marsh injured his calf in the Australian ODI win over England and the left-hander had been in Perth receiving treatment.

In other selection news Vuctoria’s 39 year old Brad Hodge is hopeful of getting a start in the second game in the three-match T20 series against England, to be played at the MCG on Friday night.

Having not played for Australia since 2008, Hodge said he was overwhelmed to be back in the ranks of international cricket again.

“I was pretty good at running the drinks in the 2005 Ashes series,” Hodge told reporters on Thursday in a dig at previous national selection panels.

“Maybe my drinks form has got me another game as drinks waiter.”

Hodge has played six Tests, 25 one-day internationals and eight T20 Internationals.

The grey-haired right-hander is the leading scorer in T20 history with 5844 runs at 36.98 in 209 matches including 61 in his last start for the Melbourne Stars against Perth Scorchers on January 27.

Did that 61 give the selectors a little nudge?

“I’ve been sending out reminders for a fair bit of time now,” Hodge smiled.

“I never thought this day would come.

“I’ve probably had the game for a long time.

“I don’t really need to call on anything else other than experience to know exactly what I can do.

“It’s nice to be able to get into this group again and feel what it’s like. It has been a long time.”

Hodge said he was overwhelmed to be recalled as it was such as surprise. He congratulated the selection panel led by John Inverarity for recognising the form of himself and fellow veterans such as Chris Rogers, who has been a success story after being recalled to the Test side in 2013 aged 35.

Hodge has changed his tune after claiming in 2009 he might have a better chance of playing for Australia if he took up lawn bowls.

Now he admits selection in the World T20 in Bangladesh is a realistic possibility.

“I never really thought I would be a chance for it. A door has opened up,” he said.

“This is a nice little reward for the hard work that has gone in for well over two decades.”

Hodge’s international career has taken an unexpected turn for the better, but the veteran batsman isn’t having any trouble keeping his feet on the ground.

“I was expecting to go and do some work on a building site this morning,” he said.

So he did that, but only after getting a call from Inverarity to say he’s back in the national squad.

“I’m reconstructing my house and there’s odd jobs that needs to be done,” Hodge said.

“It’s good for keeping your strength work up in cricket season, moving a few bricks.”

Hard work on the field is also bringing its rewards for Hodge.

“There’s no stop sign if you get to a certain age which is nice for us elder statesmen. It keeps us going,” he said.

“I’m just a little bit overwhelmed today because it’s such a surprise after a number of years.

“I put my hand out and say thank you to the selectors and the new regime that is welcoming us.”

Hodge has been recalled as a replacement for Moises Henriques who’s heading to South Africa for Australia’s Test tour.

Australia lead their three-match T20 series against England one-nil after their 13-run win on Wednesday in Hobart.

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