SANDY Hodge has been a pillar of stability at the top of the Homers batting order for a number of seasons in the Horsham Cricket Association.
After moving to Melbourne from Western Australia in 1994 Hodge followed his wife back to the Wimmera in 2006.
By the time he picked up a bat for Colts during the 2008-09 season he had been out of the game for a decade.
He said he initially struggled to get into the swing of thing in the Horsham Cricket Association.
“It took me a bit of time to adjust to the game here in Horsham,” he said.
“For a long time my highest score was in the 30s until I broke through to hit a century against Rup-Minyip.
“It’s always a fun challenge at the top of the order because each side has at least one or two good opening bowlers who keep you on your toes.”
Hodge was drawn back to the game through his work with the aboriginal community and his desire to see more young players involved in the sport.
“Robbie Marks got me involved down at Colts and we both opened there for a couple of season before I moved across to Homers,” he said.
His love for cricket saw him become involved with the annual Johnny Mullagh championship game in Harrow in 2009. He said it was a special game to be a part of as players and the community gathered to remember an important team.
“I try to get down and play in the game whenever I can,” he said.
“Over the last few years it has clashed with the one day grand final in Horsham; I won’t be playing on Sunday because my hamstrings have been giving and I just want to get through Saturday’s grand final.
“It is such an important things when communities can come together for sport.”
Even at the age of 47 Hodge has showed little sign of slowing down during the 2017-18 season.
In his nine matches this season he has put 430 runs on the board at an average of 61.43. He hit 112 against Laharum in round seven and has passed 50 on a further three occasions.
“My game has had to change as I’ve gotten older and it’s not more about trying to bat through the innings,” he said.
The number of teams in the A Grade competition have dropped since Hodge started playing in Horsham and he said it was a little disappointing to see.
“It’s something that all sport has to deal with though,” he said.
“It’s been encouraging to see junior numbers on the rise in recent seasons and we’ve had more young players involved in out A and C grade sides.
“Cricket has always been my number one sport because I think it builds character – you can work really hard at training but then go out first ball at the weekend. It teaches you some real resilience.”