Veteran Hodge earns T20 recall

Veteran batsman Brad Hodge (right) was on Thursday recalled to Australia’s Twenty20 squad, boosting his chances of playing in the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh in March-April.

The 39-year-old, who has been in outstanding form for the Melbourne Stars in the domestic Big Bash League, was called up to replace all-rounder Moises Henriques, who is heading to South Africa to join up with the Test team, Cricket Australia said.

He will join the squad for the final two Twenty20s against England, in Melbourne on Friday and Sydney on Sunday.AFP

Kathy Cross – ICC Panel’s first female umpire

New Zealand’s Kathy Cross on Thursday became the first woman to be inducted in an ICC umpires’ panel when she was named as an Associate and Affiliate International official following the annual review and selection process. The 56-year-old Cross is now eligible for appointments to ICC World Cricket League Divisions 3 to 6. Cross said she was thrilled with her induction into the panel. “…Being the first woman on the panel is a great honour and I look forward to the opportunities this selection will afford me, and to working with the Associate and Affiliate panel,” she said.PTI

Scotland, UAE grab final 2015 World Cup berths

Scotland pipped Kenya to secure their third World Cup appearance on Thursday while United Arab Emirates (UAE) also booked their ticket for next year’s marquee 50-over tournament in Australia and New Zealand. On the final day of the Super Sixes in Christchurch, Rob Taylor shrugged off his poor form and blasted 46 unbeaten runs off 37 balls to help Scotland reach the 261-run victory target with three balls to spare.

At Rangiora, UAE beat Namibia by 36 runs to secure their second World Cup appearance, first since 1996. Scotland and UAE will now play the tournament final at Bert Sutcliffe Oval on Saturday. The winner of the contest will join Group A while the loser will be in Group B .Reuters

South Africa’s injured players ready for Australia

South Africa’s alarming injury list has finally eased with the Proteas confident of fielding a full-strength side against Australia in the first test starting on Feb 12.

Since the home series against India, six members including captain Graeme Smith, vice-captain AB de Villiers and all three frontline bowlers, have battled with injuries but team manager Dr Mohammed Moosajee said they were winning the fitness battle.

“AB de Villiers says he is feeling good, his left hand has healed relatively well…” Dr Moosajee said. “Graeme Smith’s left ankle impingement which flared up has settled over the past few days… .”

Pace spearhead Dale Steyn, who had a minor rib fracture, was “almost symptom-free” after four weeks’ rest followed by a rehab programme, Dr Moosajee said.

Morne Morkel had fully recovered from a left ankle sprain and fellow paceman Vernon Philander was also over his lower back stiffness, the manager said. “Faf du Plessis sustained a right shoulder rotator cuff strain, but he has responded well to the process of rehabilitation…”

Dr Moosajee added.Reuters

Bird fit for South Africa

Australian fast bowler Jackson Bird was on Thursday declared fit and will fly out to join the rest of the squad in South Africa after being cleared of a back injury. The Tasmanian jarred his back in a domestic Big Bash League game last week and has been undergoing treatment since.

He was put through his paces in the nets in Hobart on Wednesday under the watch of Australian coach Darren Lehmann and national selection panel member Rod Marsh, Cricket Australia said on its website. He passed with flying colours and will fly to South Africa on Friday alongside Moises Henriques (left), who is replacing injured all-rounder James Faulkner.AFP