Matthew Hayden: Opening the Door to the Future

Kym CharlesContributor IJanuary 13, 2009

Matthew Hayden, the man mountain who, for so many years, opened the batting for the Australian Test Cricket team, has finally called it a day. He announced today that his illustrious career in international cricket was over and he can now get on with the next phase of his life.

He started his cricket career at Queensland in 1991 and quickly established himself as one of the most attacking opening batsmen in world cricket. His avalanche of runs finally garnered a Test match spot in 1994 against South Africa.

The debut didn't go according to plan and he was immediately dropped. His next chance came in the summer of 1996/'97. Against the West Indies, he scored his debut Test hundred but overall in six tests he was disappointing and was dropped again in favour of Matthew Elliott.

Again he refused to be counted out. He unleashed a barrage of runs for Queensland and a ground swell of local support via the "Give Matt a Bat" campaign finally convinced the Australian selectors to give him another chance. He returned to the Test arena in the 1999/2000 series with New Zealand.

The rest, as they say, is history.

His next series, against India is the stuff of legend. He scored 549 runs at an average of 109.80 in three Test matches, a record for Australia in a three-Test series. The records continued to mount with a span of five years, 2001-2005 in which he scored at least 1000 Test runs every year, the only player to have achieved the feat. 

He also briefly held the Test match record for most runs in an innings when he obliterated the Zimbabwean attack to notch up 380. This was over taken soon after by Brian Lara who reached 400.

He formed one of the most devastating opening partnerships with Justin Langer. They scored 5654 runs together at an average of over 50. Many test matches were setup for Australian wins because of their ability to score quickly and score big. They will be forever linked as one of the greatest opening combinations in Test cricket history.

Not only was he a Test match star but his attacking flair was perfectly suited for the one day game. His ODI stats are just as impressive as his Test match stats. He has a highest score of 181 not out against New Zealand.

He is one of only three players to score three centuries at a single World Cup and his 100 off 66 balls in 2007 is the fastest in World Cup history. He also scored the second most runs in a single World Cup scoring 659 runs, only 14 runs short of Sachin Tendulkars record.

He leaves international cricket having played 103 Tests and scored 30 Test centuries, 8,625 Test runs at an average of 50.73 with a highest score of 380.  He also took 128 catches.

He also amassed 10 ODI centuries with a total of 6133 at an average of 43.80 with a highest score of 181*. He also took 68 catches. His First Class career is staggering. He has played 295 matches garnering an amazing 24,603 runs at an average of 52.57 and earning himself 79 Centuries and 100 Fifties.

The loss of Matthew Hayden as a presence in the Australian dressing room cannot be underestimated. He was a powerful figure on the field, a dependable batsman, and brilliant fielder but it was also his influence on players off the field as a leader and a senior member of the side that will be lost.

There is only one way to describe Matthew Hayden's career: legendary.