The Bushfire Bash bowler AFL great Luke Hodge fears most
BETWEEN them former Test fast bowlers Peter Siddle and Courtney Walsh have 740 Test wickets, but it's not them that Hawthorn premiership captain Luke Hodge is most wary of when he lives out a cricketing dream at Melbourne's Junction Oval on Sunday.
"I don't want Nick Riewoldt to bowl to me. He's looking a bit sharp, big left-armer," Hodge said ahead of taking part in the Bushfire Bash.
"They have Sidds (Peter Siddle), Riewoldt, Courtney Walsh, a few who can send them down.
"I'm content to stay at the non-striker's end, happy with a none not out."
Hodge's preparation has a bit light on, and he was bit worried when he saw the work of Ricky Ponting and Brian Lara in the nets this week.
Luckily they are on his team.
Hodge played in a T20 clash among the Brisbane Lions players on Australia Day, but Daniel Rich took to his bowling, which Hodge admitted "wasn't great".
The dual Norm Smith medallist was a handy bowler as a junior cricketer, but at 35, after 346 punishing AFL games at the Hawks and the Lions, he said "slow medium" might be his best offering in the match, where fundraising is the main goal.
"That's when you are young and can touch your toes and your arm can rotate over your head. At the moment it's slow medium, maybe even a bit of off-spin," Hodge said.
"But when you bat at 11 and go fine leg to fine leg, you don't have to do a lot. I am out there to encourage.
"Looking through our team and you have Hayden, Ponting, Langer and Lara, I'm not batting in front of them.
"When they asked me to play I jumped at it one, to help raise money, so many people have gone through so much.
"But when they said who I would be playing with, they are the guys I grew up watching. It's going to be a great day."
LARA RELIES ON OLD METHODS AHEAD OF CAMEO
West Indies legend Brian Lara spent Saturday searching for a table tennis table to fine-tune his skills for a rare return to the crease in the Bushfire Bash.
Playing ping pong was the batting superstar's secret to success in a sublime career that gets a one-day-only revival at the Junction Oval as Lara does what he can for those in need of relief.
Lara also lapped up rare praise from long-time adversary Ricky Ponting, who was feeding balls to him on Thursday as both their competitive juices started to flow again.
"Whenever you find yourself in this environment, something comes back. It's not that you miss playing the game, but when you put the pads on that competitive side comes out and you don't want to fail," Lara said.
"Coming back in to the nets and batting with Ricky, and he was feeding the bowling machine, and you could hear him saying "shot, shot, shot".
"I said to him, 'I never heard that when I was playing for the West Indies'. He was always standing at slip, grumpy, trying to get me out. It's great to see how everyone comes together to make a difference."
Pakistan legend Wasim Akram, who calls Australia his "second home", hasn't put in as much preparation work as Lara, glad he only has to bowl six balls.
"Last I bowled was at Brian and he nicked off. I am under pressure because I haven't moved my arm for about two years and I will be 54 in June," the great left-armer said.
"I have to bowl one over, it should be OK. If I have to bowl two, you will have to take me out on a stretcher."
Akram, who is president of the Karachi Kings in the Pakistan Super League - which starts next week - is on a fly-in, fly-out mission.
But Akram, whose wife Shaniera is from Melbourne, had to get involved in the match having seen the devastation the fires cause while he was in Australia for the Test series against Pakistan over the summer.
"I read that 186,000 hectares had been burnt, a billion animals killed, whole towns wiped out," Akram said.
Akram's target for the match is to "get back to the change rooms in one piece", while Lara is hoping to avoid a dismissal similar to the last charity match he played in Australia in 1994.
In that match at the SCG, Lara was famously bowled by Zoe Goss.
"Don't come searching for my wicket this time," Lara said.
Akram and Lara will play alongside in each other in a team to be captained by Ponting in the game which will be 10 overs per side.