YORKSHIRE coach Jason Gillespie has given his full backing to wicketkeeper Andy Hodd as the former Sussex gloveman prepares to deputise for the injured Jonny Bairstow in the opening games of the LV= Division One season.
York-based Bairstow has broken the ring finger of his left hand, an injury which may keep the Yorkshire and England player on the sidelines for as much as six weeks.
However, Gillespie has no doubt about Hodd’s ability to fill the keeper’s berth.
“Andy Hodd is one of the best wicketkeepers in the country and for us there are no issues at all about him taking over,” he said. “He’s a fantastic keeper and a great lad to have in the dressing-room. On the field he brings a lot of energy, so there’s absolutely no problem.
“There was a specific reason we recruited him from Sussex. He’s a very good character, a great lad, who is very solid with the bat in hand, and obviously his keeping is world-class.”
Hodd is virtually certain to take the gloves for Yorkshire in Sunday’s opening match of the County Championship season against Somerset at Taunton.
Gillespie had plenty of sympathy for the England players Bairstow and Joe Root, both of whom have hand injuries.
“It’s disappointing for those lads,” he said “They’ve worked very hard, they’ve had their time away from cricket and unfortunately for Jonny it was a ball that went down leg side that didn’t really bounce and he copped it on the finger.
“We don’t envisage that he’ll be out for very long, six weeks at the most, and we hope that he’s back a lot sooner than that. We just have to let the injury heal and unfortunately that takes time. But he’ll be back. Before we know it, he’ll be fit, firing, playing well for us and then hopefully England.”
Gillespie was speaking as he watched his players complete their pre-season preparations with an eight-wicket win over Northants at Wantage Road yesterday.
Going into the last day with a 33-run first innings lead, Yorkshire restricted their opponents to 176-5 declared in a long pre-lunch session before Gary Ballance’s batsmen knocked off the 144 required with little fuss before batting on to give both sides further practice.
Sessay’s teenage spinner Karl Carver bowled with impressive control to take 2-20 in seven overs yesterday morning and Kane Williamson made 90
It was a game in which the emphasis was placed on allowing lots of cricketers to play as much cricket as possible and Gillespie is very content with his squad’s preparation for the new campaign.
“Pre-season has been fantastic,” he declared. “The lads have worked really hard and we had a great trip to Sri Lanka. It gave us everything we needed and we can’t thank Sri Lankan cricket enough for looking after us. We got everything we needed, the lads are firing and we’re ready for the first championship match.”