Brad Hodge has apologised for comments about Virat Kohli as they threaten to overshadow his coaching endeavours with Gujarat Lions in the Indian Premier League starting next week.
After copping a fierce backlash, Hodge took to social media to back away from conjecture about Kohli’s injury-enforced withdrawal from the deciding fourth Test against Australia, and whether he would be fit to start the IPL.
“I take this opportunity to apologise to the people of India, cricket fans, the Indian national cricket team and particularly Virat Kohli for my previous comments” the Australian posted to Twitter.
“My intention was never to harm, criticise or be derogatory toward anyone. They were intended to be light-hearted comments with the utmost respect to the Indian Premier League which I have thoroughly enjoyed through the years.
“The public and fans have every right to be upset, and the backlash I have received has certainly driven this home.”
Hodge is about to embark on his second season in charge of the Gujarat Lions, who play their first game of the IPL season against Kolkata on April 8 and are due to play Kohli’s Royal Bangalore Challengers on April 19.
He had discussed Kohli’s fourth Test withdrawal on Australian television.
“You would think that your captain would get out there and get amongst the fight and get in there,” Hodge told Fox Sports on March 26.
“You’d hope as a sportsman that he’s seriously injured.
“Because if you miss one game of Test match cricket and you’re fronting up the next week for RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) versus whoever … you’d be pretty dirty if he didn’t front up to a Test match and try and win a valuable series against Australia.
“I’m hopeful, as Gujarat Lions coach that when we play RCB in a couple of weeks, that he’s not playing.”
He went on when pressed.
“It’s happened before,” Hodge said. “Not just Virat but there’s many players that have come up to IPL time and … look, we know it’s a cash-rich tournament, there’s some money up for grabs.
“There are certain players that will limp in, to IPL time, to make sure they get there and perform well.”
Kohli, who finished the Test series against Australia with 46 runs from five innings at an average of 9.20, was criticised for his combative leadership tactics during the series.