Hodge leaves IPL for national duty

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/images/thumbnail/ver1/h/hodge.jpg' class='caption'> Kolkata Knight Riders will be without their recent recruit Brad Hodge after Australia named him as a cover for Michael Clarke for West Indies tour.

Updated: May 16, 2008 16:40 IST
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Kolkata Knight Riders will be without their recent recruit Brad Hodge after Australia named the Twenty20 specialist batsman as cover for vice-captain Michael Clarke, who is uncertain to join the squad for their West Indies tour.

After Australia captain Ricky Ponting and Kiwi stumper-batsman Brendon McCullum left the IPL for national duties, the Knight Riders hastily roped in Hodge late last month to bolster the batting even though the Australian's contribution so far has been one against Kings XI Punjab and10 against Bangalore Royal Challengers.

Hodge was summoned for national duty as Clarke will not depart with teammates on Saturday after being given compassionate leave for private family reasons and his date of arrival in the West Indies is currently unclear.

Hodge will act as a shadow player until Clarke joins the squad, Cricket Australia's National Selection Panel (NSP) Chairman Andrew Hilditch said.

"Brad has had another strong domestic season with the Victorian Bushrangers in all forms of the game. He is still very highly regarded by the National Selection Panel and this provides him with another opportunity to be involved with the Australian squad," Hilditch said.

While Clarke's father is fighting Hodgkin's disease, it's the grim condition of Graham Bingle, father of the cricketer's fiancee Lara that prompted the Australian deputy to seek compassionate leave.

Although details are yet to be finalised, it is anticipated Hodge will join his Australian teammates in either Dubai or London as they travel to the West Indies.

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