Wed, Jan 14, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Australian opener Hayden calls time on prolific career

AFP , BRISBANE, AUSTRALIA

Australian batsman Matthew Hayden, center, with his son Thomas and Australian captain Ricky Ponting announces his retirement from representative cricket yesterday at a press conference in Brisbane, Australia.

PHOTO: AFP

Prolific Australian opening batsman Matthew Hayden called stumps yesterday on one of international cricket’s most dominating careers.

The 37-year-old did not go out of the game the way he would have wanted — having to call a press conference to announce his retirement, widely anticipated after he struggled for form in Australia’s recent series losses.

But Hayden will be remembered as one of the modern-day cricketing titans, amassing 8,625 runs in 103 Tests at an impressive average of 50.74.

His departure further erodes the transitional Australian cricket team of another big-name star, following the retirements of celebrated teammates, Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Justin Langer and Adam Gilchrist in the last two years.

“Today I’m announcing my retirement from representative cricket, effective immediately,” Hayden told the press conference at his home Gabba ground. “I know that now is the time to move on.”

Hayden made his announcement against the backdrop of a run of meagre scores in Australia’s back-to-back series losses to India and South Africa.

He had been desperately trying to hold onto his spot for a final Ashes series in England this summer before retiring from the game.

But the signs were there that he had lost the support of selectors, who left him out of the Twenty20 and one-day teams in the wake of the Test series loss to South Africa.

Yet Hayden leaves cricket with 30 Test centuries, which ranks him in the sixth all-time list.

Hayden’s 380 scored against Zimbabwe in Perth in October 2003 stands second only to West Indian Brian Lara’s world record 400 not out as the highest individual innings in Test cricket.

He formed with Justin Langer one of Australia’s more durable Test opening partnerships.

Langer said yesterday he rates Hayden as Australia’s greatest opening batsman.

“He’s the best opener we’ve produced statistically and for his influence on the game,” Langer said. “He played 103 Test matches and averaged over 50 — that’s an incredible career, just showing his longevity and endurance, and his champion status.”

“He did everything. He was not only the best Test opener, but also the batsman of the World Cup in 2007,” he said.

Hayden said he had many things he wanted to focus on in life after cricket.

“I am retiring from cricket, not from life. There is still so much that I want to achieve and contribute to the community,” he said.

Family time, cooking, fishing and spending time outdoors were among the passions he said he wanted to pursue.

Hayden also said he wanted to help promote cricket among Australia’s indigenous community and to continue his work with the Glenn McGrath Foundation for breast cancer sufferers.

Hayden also played 161 one-day internationals, amassing 6,133 runs at an average of 43.81.

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