Hayden Parts Ways with Baggy Green

Jawad HussainContributor IJanuary 26, 2009

And so one of the last big guns has fallen silent. Only Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting had remained from the team that pounded so many opponents into submission in the last 10 years.

Hayden's retirement will bring relief among long-suffering bowlers, regret among his peers, and excitement among the new generation of Australian opening batsmen beginning to emerge as the old guard fades away.

The disdain with which he treated some of the world's best bowlers was legendary, often batting outside his crease and walking further up the pitch to belt them to the boundary. The same agression which raised him to a legendary personality was also cause of his sudden downfall after which he quickly released himself out of International cricket arena.

Of course his departure was anticipated. He endured a bad trot this summer, a setback that made him vulnerable. To make matters worse, Australia lost two series, in India and at home to South Africa. Inevitably the voices urging change grew louder. Probably Hayden tried too hard to prove himself in those final weeks, blasting away but coming unstuck as feet and eyes, and sometimes luck, let him down.

Matthew Hayden has announced his retirement from international cricket nearly 15 years after he was presented with his baggy green cap.

On the morning of January 13th 2009, Matthew Hayden held a press conference at 11:30am at Brisbane Cricket Ground and officially announced his retirement from representative cricket, effective immediately.

Fronting a press conference at the Gabba, the Kingaroy export called time on a sparkling career in which he played 103 Tests at the top of the Australian batting order, plundering 30 centuries at an average of 50.73.

"Today I'm announcing my retirement from representative cricket, effective immediately," Hayden read out from a statement. "Now is the time to move on to the next stage of my life. I've lived the dream of every kid who's ever picked up a bat and ball. It is a privilege and an honour that I'll always remember."

Hayden said he wished to concentrate on charity work—both in helping find Australia's next Aboriginal cricketer, and supporting the McGrath foundation—as well as pursue his other passions such as cooking, fishing and boating.

"Importantly for me today I'm retiring from cricket but not from life," he said.

Matthew Lawrence Hayden, born on 29 October 1971, was a powerful and aggressive left hand opening batsman, known for his ability to score quickly at both Test and one day levels. He was particularly proficient when hitting down the ground.

Hayden currently holds the record for the highest scores made by an Australian batsman in both the Test (380) and One Day International (181 not out) arenas. He formed one of the most prolific opening partnerships in world Test cricket for Australia with Justin Langer, and in ODI cricket with Adam Gilchrist.

Matthew Hayden, nicknamed Hydos and Unit, debuted for the Australian team in the 1994 March 4-8 Test Match against South Africa in Johannesburg, taking a modest start to his Test career, he secured his place in the team after scoring 549 runs on a three-Test tour to India in 2001 at an average of 109.8.

From there, he quickly went on to become one of the world's most feared batsmen, scoring 8,625 runs, including more than 1000 Test runs in five successive calendar years from 2001-2005.

Hayden's powers of concentration were also widely praised. He set a then world record for the highest score in an innings by a single batsman with his 380 against Zimbabwe at the WACA in 2003.

Hayden also played 161 one-day internationals, scoring 6133 runs at 43.80 and was a pivotal member of Australia's World Cup winning teams in 2003 and 2007. His highest score of 181 not out in ODIs is still an Australian record.

He was born in Kingaroy, Queensland to Laurence and Moya Hayden. He is an Australian and Queensland representative cricketer.

His average of 21.7 was not enough to keep his position in the Australian side, and in particular openers Mark Taylor and Matthew Elliott. He was dropped from the team, and it appeared his international career was over, compared occasionally to that of Graeme Hick, a fine domestic performer with not quite enough to make it at the highest level.

In the subsequent 2000-01 tour of India he averaged a Bradmanesque 109.80 with 549 runs, an Australian record for a three-Test series. Since then, he has been an automatic selection for the Test side. In the 2007-08 series against India, Hayden scored three centuries, raising his tally of centuries against India to five. He currently has thirty test centuries to his name, the first left-handed opening batsman to achieve this feat.

In 2001, Hayden scored a then-Australian record of 1,391 runs in Test matches in one calendar year, and subsequently won the Allan Border Medal as the best Australian player of the year. He picked up where he left off the following season with a seven-hour 119 against Pakistan in the Sharjah heat, which approached 50 degrees celsius.

He scored over 1,000 Test runs in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 & 2005, the first man to achieve the feat five times. He was selected as one of Wisden's five 2003 Cricketers of the Year and briefly held the world record for the highest Test score, 380, which he reached at the WACA against Zimbabwe on 10 October 2003, having batted only five sessions. As of July 2008, Hayden had the third highest conversion-rate in history, with a Test century every 3.13 Tests played, behind only Don Bradman at 1.79, and Clyde Walcott at 2.93.

Despite these achievements, Hayden has received criticism from some quarters for being a "flat-track bully". Critics have contrasted his ability to score big runs on ideal batting pitches against weak attacks, with how he was troubled during the 2005 Ashes by the less batsman-friendly English conditions.

Hayden played in the highly-anticipated 2006-07 Ashes series, against England. He failed to reach 40 in the first three innings of the series, but again returned to form with scores of 92 in Perth, and 153 in the Boxing Day Test. The century at Melbourne continued Hayden's rich vein of form at the MCG, being his fifth in eight Tests there.

Hayden has also been a regular and successful slip fielder for Australia, and has taken the thirteenth-most catches by a non-wicketkeeper in Test history. He also shares the record for the most catches by a non-wicketkeeper in a single Test Match, with seven against Sri Lanka in 2004. His most notable fielding partnership was with Shane Warne, with the "caught Hayden, bowled Warne" dismissal being the equal third most common partnership for a non-wicketkeeper and bowler: their 39 wickets are behind only "caught Taylor, bowled Warne" and "caught Dravid, bowled Kumble".

Hayden also played in the Australian side that won the 2003 One Day International Cricket World Cup. He was dropped from the ODI squad because of poor form after The Ashes in 2005, though he could not be kept away from the ODI squad for long.

He returned to the Australian squad in the 2006-07 Australian season after Simon Katich fell out of favour and Shane Watson was injured. He dominated the Cricket World Cup in the West Indies as the tournament's best batsman in 2007, scoring three centuries before the completion of the Super 8s section of the tournament.

Hayden hit another milestone against the Kiwis when he become only the third person, the others being Mark Waugh and Sourav Ganguly, to hit 3 centuries (101 vs RSA, 158 vs WI, 103 vs NZ) in a single World Cup tournament on 20 April 2007.

The century against South Africa came off just 66 balls and is the fastest World Cup ton ever beating the previous record set by John Davison. The Prime Minister of St Kitts and Nevis awarded Hayden with honorary citizenship after the match.

Hayden also became only the second player in World Cup history to surpass 600 runs in a single tournament. He needed to score a further 52 runs to equal the record that was set by Sachin Tendulkar in the previous World Cup but fell short by 14 runs. He ended the tournament with 659 runs at an average of 73.22.

In September 2007, Hayden was named ODI Player of the Year after his dominating performance throughout the World Cup. An extraordinary performance considering his place in the Australian side was in jeopardy during the Australian VB Series against England and New Zealand. He officially holds the record for being the top runs scorer in the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, scoring 265 runs in the whole tournament.

Matthew Hayden played for the Chennai outfit Chennai Super Kings in the inaugural Indian Premier League (IPL) in April 2008. After a poor run of form in the Test arena during 2008, Hayden was dropped from the ODI and Twenty20 squad in January 2009.

He was a party to the controversy that emerged from the Second Test, 2007-08 Border-Gavaskar Trophy racism charges pressed by Australia against India, and was one of the witnesses for Andrew Symonds` charges against Harbhajan Singh.

As a fallout of that instance in February 2008, Hayden was charged for a code of conduct violation by Cricket Australia, for calling the Indian spinner Harbhajan Singh an obnoxious little weed, and for inviting Indian fast bowler Ishant Sharma for a fight, during an interview aired on a local radio station; he was also heard to mimic Sharma`s Indian accent in this exchange.

He was strongly criticized by the BCCI and former Pakistan team captain Wasim Akram for reportedly calling India a third world country. Back home after a 2–0 series defeat by India, Hayden spoke about, what he perceived, poor ground conditions and inordinate delays during the matches "that happen in Third World countries". However, Hayden defended his remarks.

Hayden, 37, said on Tuesday he was capable of touring England later this year despite calls for his axing after his previous nine Tests yielded just 383 runs at 23.93.

Instead, he said now was his time to leave the game after almost two decades as a first-class player, a veteran of 103 Tests, two World Cup triumphs and the one-time holder of Test cricket's highest individual score.

Former batsman Mark Waugh said the timing of the decision was the right, as it opened the opening position up to younger players.

"He's a great player and a loss to the game and Matthew Hayden's record shows that he was a great player," Waugh said.

"It's come to an end today and while it's very disappointing we won't see him again in Australian colours, it's a good time to reflect on how good a player he was.

"I don't want to see him struggle the way he's been struggling the last six months.


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