Melbourne Renegade Brad Hodge lifts lid on why Victorian and NSW clubs are handicapped

RENEGADES veteran Brad Hodge believes the Perth Scorchers, Hobart Hurricanes, Brisbane Heat and Adelaide Strikers have a distinct advantage over the four NSW and Victorians Big Bash clubs.

Hodge made headlines earlier this week when he told reporters “someone should look into” how the Scorchers manage to keep their talent-laden squad together.

This statement was widely believed to be an indirect affront towards Justin Langer’s handling of the salary cap after the Scorchers exceeded it, self-reported and were subsequently fined in October last year.

Whispers of financial mishandlings from a WACA point of view were also floated as possible meaning behind Hodge’s comments, with Langer the only coach in these ‘one club states’ to look after the BBL franchise and the state team.

But Hodge refuted suggestions he was referring to anything untoward when quizzed on the issue during the fielding innings of Friday night’s BBL loss to the Scorchers.

“What I was alluding to is that they are a team with one particular side in the one state,” Hodge said on Channel 10.

“There is far more of an opportunity to build a strong squad.

Hodge held up by toilet break

Hodge held up by toilet break

0:52

“For us Melbourne-based teams with the two teams and the Sydney sides, it’s awfully hard to keep your core group of players together. Some go one way and some go the other.”

Of the 18 players on the Scorchers list, 14 of them are local WA players. Compare this to the Renegades (eight) and the Stars (seven), and Hodge’s sentiment becomes clearer.

Former Stars and Victorian coach Greg Shipperd was outspoken in his criticism of Cricket Australia (CA) three years ago, declaring the Renegades should be abolished as a franchise as their presence was thinning the Victorian talent too much.

This came despite a clear directive from CA before BBL 01 which made it clear that state cricket and franchise cricket would be independent competitions.

A young Brad Hodge during his time at the cricket academy with Justin Langer.
A young Brad Hodge during his time at the cricket academy with Justin Langer.Source: News Corp Australia

There are always going to be crossovers, but at least from a coaching perspective Queensland have Daniel Vettori looking after the Heat and Phil Jaques the state team, while South Australia’s coach is Jamie Siddons and Jason Gillespie runs the Strikers.

In Hobart, ex-Proteas batsman Gary Kirtsen is the Hurricanes new coach, while Adam Griffith is the state coach. But in WA, Langer has both roles and as a result more power over the entire program.

Naturally, most Victorians played for the Stars or Renegades initially and the same state-based loyalty applied all around Australia. But as the BBL has evolved so has the player movement and willingness for rusted on Western Australians such as Brad Hogg to play for a non-WA franchise.

Now it’s not unusual to see players plying their trade for a club in a different state to which they play four-day and one-day cricket. Peter Siddle is a recent example, as are Dan Christian and James Faulkner.

That’s the club-based model CA has promoted but Langer has managed to work against it, much to the benefit of the Scorchers who have won three of the last four BBL titles with a stable squad of largely Western Australians.

“The states with just one particular club have a benefit,” Hodge continued.

“Someone just asked me a question about list management and I said ‘you should look into it’. It may be unjust for the two Melbourne sides and Sydney sides to get all their best players together.

“Victoria won three Big Bash’s before it was franchise based. That’s the benefit of having this core group of players together. These players play together day in, day out. So everyone knows their particular games.

Brad Hodge (65no) and Justin Langer (52no) during the Australian XI v ACA All Stars Twenty20 at the Gabba
Brad Hodge (65no) and Justin Langer (52no) during the Australian XI v ACA All Stars Twenty20 at the GabbaSource: News Limited

“That’s the hard thing for us. People come from interstate because we don’t have enough core group of players to get together.”

When quizzed on how Langer responded to his comments, Hodge conceded the former Australian left-handed opening batsman was “a little upset”.

“He was a little bit upset but the thing is, if you actually read them I didn’t make any context to the Perth Scorchers or JL for that matter,” Hodge said.

“This list is unbelievable and they’ve done a good job to keep it together and win three flags. That’s the important factor. We are envious of that for sure.”

Working against Hodge’s theory is the fact both Sydney franchises have won a BBL title each, illustrating that it’s possible for a NSW and Victorian club to have success.

Stars coach Stephen Fleming spoke out on the distribution of talent recently, conceding that finding the right balance between quality and culture is “challenging.”

“We accept that’s a challenge and so we have to work smarter,” he said.

“The other towns have the opportunity of contracting players and having players all year round.”

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