Jan 13, 2009

Sport - Cricket;Hayden Quits Cricket as Top-Scoring Australia Opener

Dan Baynes

Jan. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Matthew Hayden, Australia’s most prolific opening batsman, said he’s quitting international and state cricket following a slump in form.

“I’ve lived the dream,” said Hayden, who amassed 8,625 runs in 103 Tests at an average of 50.73, during a news conference at Brisbane’s Gabba stadium today. “I know that now is the time to move on.”

The 37-year-old has struggled this season and was dropped from Australia’s Twenty20 and one-day squads five days ago after scoring 149 runs in five home Tests.

In his career, Hayden collected 30 Test centuries, including a then-world record 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003, and accumulated 6,133 runs in 161 one-day internationals at 43.80.

In the Test arena, no Australian opener scored more runs and his 30 hundreds place him behind Ricky Ponting and Steve Waugh on Australia’s all-time list and sixth overall. The 6- foot-2 left-hander’s Test average ranks seventh for Australians.

“It’s a huge loss,” Australia captain Ponting said. “He was always trying to find different ways to make himself better and make the team better. That will be his legacy.”

A two-time World Cup winner in the sport’s one-day format, Hayden averaged 73.22 at the 2007 edition in the West Indies, where the Queenslander led the run-scoring even after batting with a fractured toe and a broken bone in his other foot.

“Matthew was one of the greatest ever players to pull on the Baggy Green,” Cricket Australia Chairman Jack Clarke said in a statement. “To open the batting with an average over 50 in 103 Test matches puts him among the all-time greats of the game.”

No. 1 Team

Selectors must now find a replacement for a player whose hard-hitting style set the tempo for Australia’s fast scoring during more than a decade of dominance in the sport.

Contenders to partner Simon Katich in the top-ranked Test team include Phil Jaques and Chris Rogers, who have Test experience, and 20-year-old left-hander Phil Hughes. Australia’s next series is in South Africa starting Feb. 26.

Hayden’s retirement comes after he failed to pass 50 in five home Test matches, averaging 19.56 in the 2-1 series defeat to South Africa. That was Australia’s first home loss in 16 years and followed the retirement of key players including Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist, Glenn McGrath and Hayden’s long-time opening partner Justin Langer in the past two years.

“Matthew was an integral part of the most successful era in Australian cricket history,” Clarke said.

‘Zero Regrets’

Among other achievements, Hayden smashed the fastest World Cup hundred in 66 balls against South Africa in 2007; he was top scorer at last year’s inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa; he is one of three players to score centuries in four straight Tests twice; and his 128 catches in Tests are the 10th highest.

Like Warne, McGrath and Gilchrist, Hayden may continue playing in the Indian Premier League Twenty20 competition, where he represented the Chennai Super Kings last year.

Hayden received a standing ovation when he walked off the Sydney Cricket Ground last week after making 39 in the second innings against South Africa and will tonight get the chance to bid farewell to fans at the Gabba, his home ground, when Australia plays South Africa in a Twenty20 match.

“I have got zero regrets,” Hayden added. “I’ve tried to extract every ounce of whatever ability I have been given and turn it into performance.”

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