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Hugely respected, much admired... but loved?

Tom Fordyce | 11:56 UK time, Tuesday, 13 January 2009

It should be a no-brainer. Matty Hayden was a great Test batsman, his numbers over his 15-year career putting him shoulder to muscular shoulder with the all-time elite.

He scored more Test runs than any other specialist Aussie opener (8,625), stands sixth in the list of top Test century scorers (above Bradman, Border and Sobers) and retired with an average of 50.73 (higher than Viv Richards, Denis Compton and Neil Harvey).

Yet while those other six men warmed the hearts of cricket fans whatever their national allegiance, Hayden seemed to leave everyone but Australians cold.


It shouldn't make sense. Those runs were scored fast, in an unapologetically aggressive manner. He overcame significant hurdles to get to the top - not least the three-year hiatus to his Test career in the late 1990s, or being told as a youngster by Rod Marsh that he wasn't technically gifted enough to play first-class cricket.

Off the pitch he was well-rounded enough to publish his own cookbook.

There should have been enough there to endear him to the rest of the world - and yet somehow he never quite managed it.

Maybe it was the batting style. Belligerent it may have been, and hugely effective, but silky-smooth and subtle it was not. In an era when the leading left-handers were Brian Lara and Sourav Ganguly, a beefcake who battered most of his runs through the 'V' was never going to give the purists as much pleasure.

When Lara took back his mark of highest Test score in a single innings, there was a sense that a certain sporting justice had been done, that a display like that from Lara against England was a more fitting record than a score plundered against a feeble Zimbabwe.

Maybe it was Hayden's character.

"At the end of the day, two alpha dogs are never going to sit in a cage and not look at each other," he once said. "It is what it is. The way I see my cricket, if you're the other alpha dog, you better not blink."

To some, that's exactly the attitude a Test opener should have. Then again, one man's self-belief is another man's smug superiority.

What some would see as a feisty combativeness is to others an unpleasant bellicosity.

"I don't mean to be arrogant, but if we 're executing our skills there's not a side that can get close to us," he said famously before the 2005 Ashes, ensuring England fans would celebrate his dismal run of scores until the final Test (12, 34, 1, 31, 34, 36, 7, 26) with immense glee.

Then there were the spats with Harbhajan Singh. As a cricketer against India, Hayden was sometimes supreme - those 549 runs there in 2001 remain an Australian record for a three-match series - but as a man he could be small-minded.

Would Bradman, Border or Harvey call an opposition player, particularly one who had dismissed him more times than any other bowler, "an obnoxious little weed" on national radio?

To some, Hayden epitomised the less edifying aspects of Ricky Ponting's team: a certain chippiness and lack of humility underlying the stellar successes on the pitch.

As a result, his dismissal was cheered by opposition fans more than any other Aussie batsman, save Ponting himself.

It says something that many England fans were hoping he would hang on long enough to be picked for this summer's Ashes series, just so they could see him worked over by Andrew Flintoff again.

All of this sounds mealy-mouthed on the day that he retired from international cricket. Ponting and Justin Langer have described him as Australia's greatest-ever opener, Glenn McGrath as "a legend".

All three of them are right. At the same time, so are those who flag up the caveats.

Shane Warne was far more of a rogue, but the rest of the world saw him as a lovable one. Hayden, for whatever reason, would never generate the same affection.


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  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    Good riddance to a fine player. For all non "Aussies" (like myself) he was a bully.

    He got under the noses and demoralised teams, this with his attittude and mainly his batting style.

    I am glad he had retired, but even at 37 I feel he should have stayed for a bit longer and retired after the ashes. Fair enough he had a poor Aussie summer - but what batsmen has not had a bad summer?

  • Comment number 3.

    I really don't understand the point of this article. He was a combative cricketer with a superb record. He didn't go out there to win friends. Harbajan is pretty obnoxious.

    I'd say he was very close to being one of the all-time greats and I'm sorry to see him go. Well played Matthew.

  • Comment number 4.

    I can't disagree more with you here Tom. Perhaps it's just with English fan's or media (or whatever) that this view is held.

    Hayden, when he played with Langer held utmost respect from all countries and players - and I'm sure this continued even after his great friend and opening partner retired.

    He was quite right about Singh - Singh causes trouble wherever he goes.

    Sure he he struggled in the last series - so what - that happens to everyone. I'm sure he would have played a vital role again the English in the Ashes.

    Hayden - legend, proud Australian, wore his heart on his sleeve and stuck up for what he believed was right. More importantly he did his talking on the pitch which is where it matters and his records speaks for itself.

    Enjoy your retirement Matty.

  • Comment number 5.

    Good article about Hayden. True to what Hayden is and I will always remember him as someone who never gives up and will always attack to the very end.

    It's unlucky that he slump in form cost him his place in the team. I would have loved to have seen back in England for the Ashes, not so that he could worked over by Flintoff, but to see his powerful and almost unique strokeplay.

  • Comment number 6.

    He was a great test opener.

    Good luck fishing Haydos.

  • Comment number 7.

    In a sense all the criticism of him reflect precisely why the ozzies were so good for so long. It's not about making friends, it's about winning.

  • Comment number 8.

    I guess Hayden's unpopularity might in part be to do with what comes across as his hypocrisy. It's quite OK in sport for a player to be combative on the pitch and gentle off it - and it's also acceptable (although perhaps less so) for someone to be an absolute so-and-so in both environments.

    However, Hayden professes devout Christianity and says that "when I’m in trouble, I ask: ‘What would Christ do?'"

    Now, I am no theologist, but I cannot imagine the son of the Almighty doing ot saying half of the things that Hayden has done off the pitch. And it's this duplicity that makes him hard to stomach.

  • Comment number 9.

    A sad decline of a true great. If he had gone with the rest of the Aussie greats after they pummelled us (England) in 2007, or perhaps after the World Cup, he would have maintained his greatness. However, despite his lack of form, there's no denying he is one of the true greats of the modern era. His partnership with Langer was, in my opinion, the best there's ever been. I feel if he had been English, he and Trescothick would have been brutal. Those English fans who question why he was still getting selected have to look at our policy of still selecting certain individuals who seem to have been off form for far too long.

  • Comment number 10.

    Great batsman yes, great person NO !! A distinct lack of humility that crossed over to the field of play often crossing the line.

    I for one, am glad that he has retired.


  • Comment number 11.

    This is why you Poms will never dominate long term. If you have a superiority complex you expect to win. This is the view of Pietersen and why he does not fit within the English (recent) tradition of under-achievement. OK he shouldn't have made the statements about Harbhajan in public but he remains popular in Australia. His performances in the 2007 CWC were absolutely stunning and he remains probably the greatest straight driver to play the game. Agree with your comments about the Lara although were England ranked higher in test cricket than Zimbabwe ate the time of Lara's record??

  • Comment number 12.

    Great batsmen yes, great person NO !!

    Erm so what - even if that was the case. Is it someones personality that is under scrutiny when they go out to bat?

    Sour grapes from English fans who would take somebody like Matty Hayden into their team any day - above so called "legends" Trescothick etc who everyone is whining for a return.

    Look at the stats they speak for themselves.

  • Comment number 13.

    i for one never liked him - he did have that bully nature, arrogance and spite that made it so delicious when he got out. Langer had the self belief and the force of will, but is such a nicer guy.

    BUT, i never realised his average was over 50?! that, albeit grudgingly, i have to take my hat off to. Those who wished him to remain on until the ashes did so at their peril; always respected and feared, rarely liked, I imagine his popularity or the admiration towards him will increase as time goes on.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hayden failed against quality bowling at the beginning of his Test career, came back and prospered when these bowlers had by and large gone, failed again against pace and movement in 2005, and again in 2008.

    Hayden never made a test hundred against a top quality attack on a difficult track when the result was in doubt. His figures are a testament to the decline in fast bowling over the last 15 years. That together with an increase in batting friendly pitches, smaller boundaries and limitations on short pitched bowling enabled him to adopt a percentage approach to being aggressive. He was also a great competitor and very single minded.

    Don't get me wrong, Hayden had a freakish eye and tremendous power, but his technique was brutally exposed every time he came up against the best. That's why I never took to him - his bombast was the talk of a bully knowing there was no one to stand up to him.

    Statistics can lie...M Hayden av. 50.73; IVA Richards av. 50.23

  • Comment number 15.

    This has been coming since his spat with harbhajan in the infamous-sydney test.He began concentrating more on the usage of "obnoxious" adjectives for describing opposition players.He should've retired after the series in India which would have been a perfect ending since it is there that everything started for him!!

  • Comment number 16.

    You can't argue with his stats but as a cricketer, Hayden was a boorish, charmless, sledging bully.

  • Comment number 17.

    Great batsman and a great judge of character - Harbajan is an obnoxious little weed - Hayden just wasn't afraid to say so!!

    Good fielder and team man - just judging my the aussies comments u can see how highly regarded he was by his own team and that says it all...

  • Comment number 18.

    Couldn't agree less, Tom, I am afraid!

    I think most cricket fans had the utmost respect for his abilities and his record speaks for itself.
    I think a lot of sportsmen in this country could learn from his attitude, single-mindedness and belief. Without it, you ain't going to win and dominate like Australia have in cricket for 20 years.
    I have no problem with somebody "mouthing off" a long as they have the guts to stand up and then back it up with performance. Hayden did this.

    I haven't seen a better opener in my 58 years as a devoted fan of the game - he and Langer were a hell of a team, reminiscent of Haynes and Greenidge in terms of their presence and immoveability, if not quite the same class of strokeplay.

  • Comment number 19.

    He was the first to chirp the opposition batsman, yet went squealing to the match referee when a player said anything to him (Zaheer Khan late last year).

    One of the most loathsome cricketers ever.

  • Comment number 20.

    Met Hayden in 1997 at a hampshire benefit match - just after the Aussies had lost the first test. He was a charming, eloquent fellow, happy to talk to everyone and one of the last to leave. He thanked everybody (tealadies included) even though he wasn't the beneficiary.

    Sure he didn't go out of his way to be loved, but that is the way of international sport these days. I still loved Flintoff and Harmison working him over - but that was out of admiration and fear for what he could do and his knocks in the World Cup in the West Indies will stay with me forever. Yes Lara, Ponting and Tendulkar are pleasing on the eye but nothing gets you on the end of the seat than a Pietersen, Gilchrist, Flintoff or Hayden battering hapless bowlers. No mercy and full belief in their destiny.

    Thanks for the memory Matt a good man hidden within a hard exterior.

  • Comment number 21.

    Whatever you think of Hayden, he was absolutely spot on about Harbajan.

  • Comment number 22.

    I didn't realise professional sport was a popularity contest. Silly me. Anyway, can anyone on here forward a case for Harbhajan not being an 'obnoxious little weed'?

    Hayden was a great, great opener who seamlessly filled the void left by Mark Taylor. To finish with an average of 50 whilst opening the batting underlines his class. Anyone who claims he wasn't a great player is either blinkered or slighty misguided.

    As an Englishman, I'm delighted that Hayden won't be making the trip over here in a few months time as he would undoubtedly found his form again, just like he did at the Oval in '05. He was too good a player not to.

  • Comment number 23.

    Hayden is a fantastic player, however, I never liked him as a person. No doubt, he is one of the great openers I have seen in my time but may his arrogance, bullying nature got his enemies.
    True, though Warney is a rogue, I love him.

  • Comment number 24.

    i have to say i admire his ability, and his attitude, he was a winner, and comes across as such. is there anyhting wrong with that, i wouldn't be like that, but im not saying its wrong either, if thats the way you can get your success and thats the person you are then well done as you've been successful, and ultimatley the player themselves should be the judge of their ability, and his statistical legacy will stand strong and that is how he will be remembered as a good player!

  • Comment number 25.

    England were ranked number 2 when Lara got 404...I was there and England won 3-0! It is certainly a greater innings than Hayden against an poor Zim side!

    He was flat track bully, a born again christian who was the worst sledger! He is disliked by EVERYONE in world cricket...apart from aussies! Symonds and Harbajan are poor seconds in dislike after Hayden!

    Like most English fans, I am gutted he retired...he would have been slaughtered by the saffers next month and England in the summer.

    The good thing is that Jacques and Rogers are good players but are injured or out of most of the Aussie team!

    He was a good player but is not in Lara's or Tendulkar's class

  • Comment number 26.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 27.

    For a nation that still clings to the outdated idea that 40 is still the benchmark for a Test batsmen to speak ill of Hayden because he was an aggressive player who wasn't as attractive a batsman as Lara (who has?) is ludicrous.

    He averaged 50-plus and almost 44 in ODIs, which is superb. If he bothered to read these comments I hope he would be delighted that he got the opposition's back up so much, a sure sign that he did a real job for his country.

    England's only player to get near this average in the modern era is Pietersen and we have all decided not to like him any more! All our other batsmen are miles behind Hayden's achievements, despite many of them arguably being naturally more gifted players.

    Hayden should be acknowledged for the champion performer he was, rather than belittled for 'bullying' bowling attacks.

  • Comment number 28.

    Awesome batsman! I can't place it either Tom, always admired him but a combination of his attitude (not a bad one tbh), his country of birth (i am a englishman of Jamaican descent) and probably a bit of jealousy made me happy to see his wicket fall every time it did. His attitude is almost no different to that of KP's, i am a big fan of his, and many of the west indies quicks back in the day. Even Viv had a similar attitude. I suspect he is held in very high regard in Australia, but ever since his 380 (beating a west indians world record isn't good) i havn't really liked him. But that is the kind of irrational dislike sports fans are allowed. I would still have picked him as the best opener in the world for at least 13 out of the 17 seasons he played for. Very very good cricketer who's skill should not be underestimated. I suppose the true level of his ability should be measured by badly much opposition players and fans wanted him out (i never felt comfortable whilst he was at the wicket).

    Sam, Sweden

  • Comment number 29.

    Good blog tom!

    I admire Hayden, he never seemed the most technical, or graceful in the mould of lara, tendulka et al.

    But I was always impressed with how he could bully almost any bowler on any surface, and i never realised how many runs he got in india in 2001, so with the average he hs retired with, and the honours he has won it makes him all the more impressive.

    I also agree with your sentiments that he will never be loved like the cricketers you mentioned, but, its probably in keeping with the type of cricketer he was, and i doubt he will give two hoots about whether the cricket world universally loved him or not!

    And i think it was the right time, he had a nasty injury and didn't look the same since.

    Despite being a pom, i'll miss him from cricket

  • Comment number 30.

    Brilliant opener who never let the opposing bowlers get into the groove. Even though an Aussie I loved watching this guy bat. At the top of any sport you need absolute self belief which sometimes can over as being arrogant. With Harbajan he only said what evryone else thought; that guy could start an argument in an empty room.

  • Comment number 31.

    I thought Hayden was an arogant bully before I travelled to Australia. Partly because that is how he was portrayted by the British media and partly because of the smug expression on his face.

    I then went to Australia and saw him a lot on TV dressed in pastel coloured shirts, smiling and talking about food and his faith (he is a Christian). I also learned that he has many good friends in the Austrlia squad, Langer and Symonds the closest.

    All this new information made me change my mind about him; I now think he is an 'arogant bully who wears girls colours and goes to church a lot'.

  • Comment number 32.

    Agree he is a good batsmen with a great average, not disputing that but he just comes across as an arrogant tw*t. I

    I wouldn't say that of the current aussie lot or hardly any other international cricketers.

    Anyway sad he's gone.....who is there to hate in world cricket now? He was a pantomins villan!

    Smith seesm to have re-invented himself but Harbajan and Symonds are good targets.

  • Comment number 33.

    I think he helped modern test cricket become more palatable to new cricket fans. Instead of mundane 2-3 runs a over he helped take the modern average above 4.
    Still I'm not sad he retired, he used intimidation get were he is rather than pure talent.

  • Comment number 34.

    Winning not making friends or

    Winning with style and making friends.

    Only the ones with charisma can do the second.

    I think Hayden was respected and thought he was okay, certainly more of a gentleman when compared to other Aussies.

  • Comment number 35.

    For the record, I'm a proud Pom.

    BUT Hang on... how many of the above people have actually MET Matty Hayden... you lot don't like his personality?!!! What experience have you actually had of it.

    The only thging we can comment on with authority was his batting and that was brilliant at times. I'm sad his career ended like this but I'm glad he had one and made Rod Marsh's comments look pretty foolish.

  • Comment number 36.

    WalsallRobbo - I did not have the same as your experience when I went to Auz, but then again I did not watch TV when I was there (an opportunity obviously not missed).

    I have to agree with your comments about Hayden, withour reservation. A man that I find impossible to like or respect at all. Having Symonds as on of his closes mates probably confirms many things!

    Thank goodness we won't have to put up with his pathetic gum chewing not funny comments (from slip) this summer

  • Comment number 37.

    Addicktum @ 26

    People are just giving opinions on sport - it's really not that important. If you find it difficult to deal with I'd keep your comments to yourself and seek a self esteem building course.

  • Comment number 38.

    Jamesisclass...what an ironically inappropriate name.

    You say Hayden was disliked by everyone in world cricket obviously showing you cannot read the posts that have gone before you. But then, if you are so short sighted that you think Hayden was nothing more than a bully maybe you have an excuse.

    Hayden's record as a batsman speaks for itself. Anyone who averages over 40 throughout 100 caps is seen to be a competent test player and to average over 50 is extraordinary. Add to that, he is probably one of the best slip fielders to spin bowling and your comments are just laughable.

  • Comment number 39.

    The title of this blog is "Hugely respected, much admired... but loved?".

    The mostly Australian, I assume, contingent who are slagging Tom off for saying that Hayden wasn't a great or respected player quite frankly can't have that great a grasp of the English language. That Hayden is one of the greats isn't in question, only an idiot would question that his impact on test cricket over the last 10 years isn't up there with (altho not necessarily quite equal to in all cases) Tendulkar, Lara, Warne, Giles and Murali, amongst others.

    The question raised is his popularity around the world. And let's face it he's ruffled a few feathers. Whoever was in the right in the Harbajhan saga doesn't really matter, that the saga existed at all meant that most of the 2nd largest population in the world turned against him. When he failed in 2005 against English, it was enjoyed by cricket fans the country over because of the manner in which he had spoken prior to the series. And there's probably other gripes from other countries as well... he had a habit of getting at his opponents.

    I don't even think its about questioning his character or his personality. I suspect a large amount of what he said was designed with a purpose, and while it may have seemed misguided to those on the outside at time and misfired on occasion, who's to say there wasn't a greater purpose?

    And in the end, we should really only judge him on one thing: runs. And as an opening batsman, there have been none better.

  • Comment number 40.

    Hayden had a job to do and did it to the best of his ability and for his country.

    His record speaks for itself.

    If he got under the opposition's skin then they allowed him to!

    Happy retirement.

  • Comment number 41.

    Have to agree with the Aus view of Hayden being a winner and our lack of this attitude holding us back (something which seems to apply to all sports, with few exceptions).

    He plays sport, the personality thing, thats a side issue, I doubt Hayden really cares whether you like him or not, and I bet he greatly enjoyed being a winner.

  • Comment number 42.

    14 & 37 gottwald : proper banker

  • Comment number 43.

    Blimey Tom, that's a bit strong.

    I for one have always loved watching Hayden bat (apart from against us - apart from in 2005!), because of the no nonsense way he went about his business.

    At his peak three or four years ago, you could see a bowling attack sink as soon as he walked to the crease, with his big chest puffed out.

    Yes, he's been waning recently, but that shouldn't change the fact that when Australia were credited for changing the Test game from a 2 - 2.5 runs per over bore-a-thon to one where 400 runs in a day became commonplace, Hayden was at the forefront of that.

  • Comment number 44.

    Neil Harvey is quite renowned for being a miserable old whiner in his old age. Malcolm Marshall's autobiography states a case in which Border used a racially abusive term during a match. Yet it's Matt Hayden who is tainted as the big bad man.

    I don't consider him a great in the manner of a Lara or Tendulkar. Undoubtedly he filled his boots against some very weak opposition attacks with the added bonus of never facing the two legends in Mcgrath and Warne. he was a very fine player though, of that there can be no doubt, who ably demonstrated how far sheer strength of mind could take you.

    His comments on the 'obnoxious little weed' were spot on.

  • Comment number 45.

    The article is titled Hugely respected, much admired... but loved?

    The answer has to be Yes, Yes, No.

    A great batsman who made the most of his ability and had the desire and will to win that we the English could learn from. He played to his strengths, and bullied opening bowlers. Nothing wrong with that. Opening bowler will bully any batsman given half a chance.

    However, as a person he is too mouthy, too arrogant, too contradictory and lacking humility. There is nothing wrong with faith in the Lord but deciding when and where to follow that faith makes you open to calls of hypocrisy.

    Regarding his opinions of Harbajan, shouldn't he just turn the other cheek?

    Truly great players win over cricket fans across the globe, not just those from their own country. Sachin, Viv Richards, Richard Hadlee, Sunil Gavaskar won and lost with humility. An emotion Hayden couldn't even spell.

  • Comment number 46.

    I have a great deal of begrudging respect for his achievements. What sports fan wouldn't?

    But I think I can summarise why people took a dislike to him quite simply. All things considered, he was just a little too Australian.

    Most Aussies are great and display an endearing competitiveness and traits where you can get into enjoyable banter, but Hayden was just a bit too Australian for anyone to like him or love him.

    To those that have said "so what, his stats speak for themselves", you're absolutely right, but Tom isn't questioning whether or not he was successful (there's no question that he was) - read the title.

  • Comment number 47.

    Quality Batsmen and even as an avid England fan I am sad that he was perhaps the final surviving member of the great Australian team's core to retire.

    In terms of character I have no qualms. The great Aussies of the last couple of decades always talked a good game but in the rarity of defeat were good enough to handle it with grace. The England and Australian team were often reported to share beers in the changing rooms post play (during the ashes of 2005) and Flintoff's autobiography mentioned Hayden to be a likeable character.

    Your criticism for the Harbajhan spat is unjust. The 'weed' could clearly start a fight in an empty room and I only wish he'd have taken up the Haydens' invitation to settle it in the ring. Unlike the great Aussies the current Indian unit enjoy the status of a premier league footballer and have adopted the same prima donna like status.

    Hayden will be sadly missed but hopefully we will see him here this summer in a commentary rule. His frank opinions would make interesting viewing

  • Comment number 48.

    Australia has a three Test in South Africa prior to the five Ashes Tests. Given his current runs tally, Hayden would need to score 675 more runs to guarantee he could retire at the end of the Ashes series with an average of 50. Across a probable sixteen innings, this equates to an average of 42.19 - well in excess of his average from the last two test series against SA and India.

    Hayden unquestionably has an ego and I wouldn't be surprised if his decision to retire now was driven in part by that ego - how many cricketing "greats" retired with an average in excess of 50? But should his ego make us respect him any less?

    I remember the 1st test at Edgbaston in the 2001 Ashes - a last wicket stand of 103 between Stewart and Caddick had lifted the crowd and raised the hope that this might be a tightly contested Ashes series. An hour later Hayden was out having blasted 35 from 41 balls (including one huge 6) in an opening stand of 98 that pretty much put us back in our place.

    It was Hayden at his brutal best and demonstrates how important his role was to the Aussie team. The fact that he can choose when he retires and has a wealth of records and victories to dine out on for the rest of his life says more for his character than a perception that he isn't "loved" as much as certain other cricketers.

    Perhaps this discussion is less about a perceived affection held for other cricketers and more a residing jealously of the Aussie success he played such an important part in?

  • Comment number 49.

    The only reason Matty Hayden isn't as fondly remembered as Warney is his inability to be self deprecating.
    Warney would poke fun at everyone, but he also had no problem poking fun at himself as well which endeared him to most fans, Hayden doesn't have that 'cheeky chappy' sense of humour, and even if he does have a sense of humour he doesn't let others see it so all anyone sees is an aggressive, egotistical person who treats their favourite players with utter disregard, you can't help but respect him but you also hate him for it.
    Whereas Warney likes to have a laugh, he wears his heart on his sleeve and is engraciating, accepting defeat with humility.
    Which means you not only respect him, but you love him too. If Haydos had've been a more open person i'm sure the cricketing world would have accepted him as they did the other greats.

  • Comment number 50.

    Enjoy your retirement Matty. Enjoy reading the comments above and have a great laugh!

  • Comment number 51.

    Yeah he has a good record and was a good batsman for his country but had more brawns than brains and that often showed in his comments and demeanour on and off the pitch. He was a total hypocrite as a person and his self belief came from demeaning other players and calling names like an immature bully, you just don't expect that kind of behaviour at International level of any sport. That's the reason he is not looked up and respected as other players outside Australia and it's hardly surprising that Australians would applaud his achievement...he'd have to be pretty obnoxious for that not to happen.

  • Comment number 52.

    Any guy that can play over 100 tests and still carry an average of over 50 deserves repect. Look at how is average compares to several other long-standing openers; it knocks spots off those of Gooch, Boycott, Atherton, Langer, Greenidge, Taylor, Haynes, Kirsten and Fleming... to name but a few in the top 50 test run scorers. Sure he could appear arrogant, stood there intently chewing his gum at slip, but the man could bat - even if he did it his way "in the V". I'm sure Shane Warne was grateful for his presence at first slip once or twice too.

    As an Englishman, I am certainly not sad to see the back of Matthew Hayden. As a cricket fan, I most certainly am...

  • Comment number 53.


    your final comment is a joke. Most of the comments on here praise Hayden's ability as a batsman but criticise him as a man. Hence the title of the blog.

    Also, I'm sure batsmen don't work out what their future scores need to be in order to retire with and average above 50.

  • Comment number 54.

    The guy was a winner. As a Pom I'm happy to see him go and spend more time with his cooking!

  • Comment number 55.

    Hayden was (and this hurts me to say this) a modern great... but his bullish, proud (read arrogant) deameanor and his general aloof contempt of the opposition endeared him to very view outside of Australia...
    Statistically he was second to none as an Aussie Test opener and was much revered & loved... Justin Langer, another modern great, was a battler and all round good guy but the Australian public never took him to their hearts... mmm, I have to feel they aren't the best judges of character...
    Hayden with the exception of Ponting was the last member of the great Aussie team of the last twelve years or so... will he be missed? Definitely...
    However the only sure thing now is that the Aussies will be strenghtened by his omission for the Ashes judging by his recent form... damn!!!
    Enjoy your retirement Matthew!

  • Comment number 56.

    Lets not kid ourselves.

    Hayden was an average player in medicore times.

    His best scores were made against average attacks and when he faced a genuine top class attack he was nowhere like 2005 and 2008/9.

    Anyone who talks of Hayden in the same breadth as the genuinely great openers like Boycott, Gooch, Greenidge and Haynes is insulting these genuinely great players.

    I am no fan of a player whose career has be formed against so many weak sides over the last decade.


  • Comment number 57.

    Being and England fan and not having much to shout about, i think Hayden calling Harbijan an "obnoxious little weed" was the highlight of my year!

  • Comment number 58.

    Hayden was a great batsman, BUT, like Ponting, never had to face McGrath or Warne in a Test. That leaves some question marks over his TRUE ABILITY. As far as the sledging goes, the Aussies took this to a totally unacceptable level. You must NEVER become personal in your sledging, or as it used to be called in the gentleman days, chirping. It was a fine and subtle art to never actually speak directly to the batsman but just past him to distract him and get into his mind. I was amased that nobody actually at some stage did not put a cricket bat sideways through an Aussie mouth !!

  • Comment number 59.

    44. At 1:09pm on 13 Jan 2009, AndyPlowright wrote:

    I don't consider him a great in the manner of a Lara or Tendulkar. Undoubtedly he filled his boots against some very weak opposition attacks with the added bonus of never facing the two legends in Mcgrath and Warne.


    So to be clear, you're disregarding him as a great because he never faced two of the best test bowlers in history that were his team mates in one of the most successful teams in history?

    Hopefully, you see the ridiculousness of such a statement? It's like belittling Lara's achievements because he never faced Ambrose and Walsh!!!!

    Personally, I think Hayden epitomised that team. Spikey, chippy, bloody minded, bully. Hated them, but they won everything. Oh, how I would love England to be like them, show an unbreakable spirit.

  • Comment number 60.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 61.

    I'm English and I loved the way he plays.

    Give me a thumper like Hayden over some effeminate nurdler every time.

    I'm not surprised they don't like him - the English "traditionalists" or "purists" or whatever English cricket watchers who never play the game but think it's at its best when 2 men and a dog watch a county game ebb to a slow draw want to call themselves.

    The fact we don't rate Hayden (except grudgingly on stats alone) is the very reason why we never put together 3 decent 50-over performances, why we'll take 50 years to win a Twenty20 tournament (and never admit its the dominant format even when the evidence will be overwhelming) and it's the reason why (leaving the 2005 Ashes off the table) our approach to Test cricket is stodgy and falling behind the times.

    If only we did rate Hayden higher I'd hold out more hope for English cricket's future.

  • Comment number 62.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 63.

    His stats speak for themselves, and being arguably one of the greatest opening batsmen of all-time - he retirement is a loss to the game surely? Only those supporting the opposition will be glad that Hayden is no longer marching out to rough them up a little.

    With a more graceful stroke he wouldnt be far off Viv Richards. But everyone loves Viv, although on the pitch he showed more contempt for the bowlers than possibly anyone. Hayden did the same, just not quite with the charm and swagger. But then he's a batsman, and let his cricket alone do the talking. His Harbhajan comments were well made - a thoroughly dislikeable character..

  • Comment number 64.

    To us Poms, he was a "typical Aussie".

    Arrogant, smug and arrogant. Sterotypical maybe, but true.

    Great player though, and unless he wants to be a captain on A Question of Sport that's all that counts really.

  • Comment number 65.

    Re Post #59:

    "Hopefully, you see the ridiculousness of such a statement? It's like belittling Lara's achievements because he never faced Ambrose and Walsh!!!!"

    The statement is NOT ridiculous "as any fule kno" - or at least any serious follower of cricket. It's quite legitimate (and in fact common) to conjecture that a batsman's record should be in some way 'discounted' relative to those of his contemporaries, if during the time that they were all playing, he happened to have a fearsome attack as his team-mates.

    The point is that had Warne, McGrath et al been playing for (say) India, Tendulkar wouldn't have been able to face them (such that his record would probably have been even better) whereas Hayden WOULD (ergo his record would likely have been poorer)

    Clearly this is just a way of 'weighting' performances, precisely in the way that rankings and ratings systems attempt to achieve, and as such it is a perfectly sensible contribution to the debate.

  • Comment number 66.

    Hugely respected, much admired... but loved? //

    Yes, Hes loved a lot.. I am an indian and i love him than any other Aussi player for his character.

  • Comment number 67.

    Pretty disappointed to see a column like this on the day a legend retires.
    Make no mistake that is exactly what he is.

    He may not be loved because of his intimidating aggresive style, but that's because most have us have only seen him on the pitch.
    Having lived in Australia I have seen the loveable larakin that he is, and the reason he is loved by all in Australia.

    He may not be as quite the humble, modest sportsman that is stereotyped, but at the end of the day sportsmen aren't their to make friends, they are their to do their country proud and that is exactly what he did time and time again.

    The people who say he is mediocre or overrated are kidding themselves. If he was English you would all be saying he is one of the greatest players in the history of the game.

    Yes he has scored a lot of runs against weak opposition, but who hasn't? He was also made great bowling attacks look second rate.

    Any opening batsman with an average over 50 and 30 test match hundreds deserves to go down as a legend.

  • Comment number 68.

    Good reasoning/banter/argument from all concerned - this is developing nicely...

    One thing I didn't mention was Hayden's one-day record. That 66-ball ton against South Africa at the start of the last World Cup (completed with a fractured foot) even earned him honorary St Kitts citizenship - so maybe one tiny corner of the non-Aussie world did love him, after all...

  • Comment number 69.

    He is definately an all time great, you cant scorethat many runs and centuries, at that average and be anything else.

    Fair enough at times he was a bit of a flat track bully and showed some weaknesses but then so do most people at some stage. But he had to be more than that as he just wouldnt have had the career he has otherwise.

    I always enjoyed watching him play and he will be missed(especially by the Aussies).

  • Comment number 70.

    Good player in a great team but it's difficult to say he was one of the truly great players himself. I'd still rather have him in my side than any of the English batsmen of his era other than Vaughan.

    He was always a superb example to give to young cricketers when trying to coach and explain how Ian Bell may look pretty but Hayden's results are far better.

    All Aussies get under the skin of all Poms, so I'm going to say he really annoyed me and he was not likeable. Take it as a back handed compliment.

  • Comment number 71.

    A fine player.
    Up there with haynes and Greenidge, barry richards and len hutton as the best openers the game has ever seen.

    Yes, as an Englishman, I hated Hayden, from his aggression and arrogance, to his rubbish nickname (Haydos!?). But no one can deny that he was good.

    How often did he go in to bat and put the game out of sight of the opposition. From Nassers riddiculous decision to bowl in 2002 in Brisbane, where he hit a big centuries in each innings, to his amazing world cup in 2007 where he hit 3 centuries and the Aussies won with ease.

    This shows the talent of the man, both in test and one day cricket.

    Flat track bully? Sometimes.
    Arrogant and obnoxious? when he needed to be.
    Winner? Certainly.
    Someone you would want in your side over the last ten years? Absolutely and unequivocally yes.

    History will increase crickets fondness of Hayden, and in time all the things we hated about him will diminish. And when it does, we will be left with a player who made runs against every major cricket nation by the boat load, in all forms of the game and won every trophy available in the process.

    Good luck to you Haydos, I expect that now you will become a great commentator and ambassador for the game and prove that you were a much better bloke than we all took you for.


  • Comment number 72.

    I couldn't agree more with the points raised. Undoubted ability, all the class of roadkill.

    The point of the article is that he will be remembered, but probably for all the wrong things. Same as Ponting and probably MacGrath.

    Despite the fact that Shane Warne ripped us (England) to shreds on far too many occasions I still think he was a true legend, and that's something Hayden never will be. Justin Langer was a great player I was sad to see retire.

    MacGrath was a terrible sport too, but Brett Lee will be better remembered outside Australia for his humble attitude and great sportsmanship.

    I fully accept Hayden was a great player, but at the same time very few non-Aussies will be sad to see him go. Just a bit gutted Freddie wont get to show him up and shut him up one last time!!

  • Comment number 73.

    gotta say - i agree with the dissenters to your article here tom.

    success at Haydens level [2nd most successful opening partnership in history etc etc] comes from a mix of so many things, of which likeability is NOT one.

    too many [british] sportsmen seem to see their sporting career as a mere launch pad to their potential 2nd career as a celebrity that they actually lose an edge to the ultimate competitve grittiness that b*ggers like Hayden have.

    Oh to have a couple of Hayden's in our current Cricket and Football teams (rugby - you are not far behind...) who are there to provide SPINE AND CHARACTER when the team is in trouble.

    I'd eat my shorts if someone like Hayden ever turned up on "Strictly" or the equivalent. I wouldn't risk that for any current England players - especially the most recent ex-Captain.....

  • Comment number 74.

    Beethoven’s left ear:

    No, I am not disregarding Hayden as a great purely because he didn’t face McGrath and Warne. You mention Lara being belittled as he never faced Walsh and Ambrose as a comparison. As comparisons, go, they are very poor ones. Lara went to Sri Lanka and stood alone against Murali. He did likewise against Australia in the West Indies and scored runs against the best home and away. He went to South Africa and scored runs. Lara dominated the best attacks in a way that Hayden did not always do.

    Hayden is one of those very good players who, like Kallis, don’t fall into the great category. Ponting right now isn’t a great. Graeme Smith might well become a great based on his strength of mind in pressure situations as we have seen twice in the last calendar year during the last innings of the match.

  • Comment number 75.


    ''He was a good player but is not in Lara's or Tendulkar's class''

    Im struggling to think of anyone that is in their class. Sir Viv? Sir Garfield? The Don?
    Those players are simply genius in the history of the game, the once in a generation sort.

    Hayden was head and shoulders above most of the worlds openers during his career. I couldnt care less if he appeared arrogant or cocky. An average of +50 says it all to me. I sense a lot of hypocritical England and India fans jumping on the bandwagon. I prefer Hayden to H.Singh or Pietersen in terms of character any day of the week.

    He will be missed. Good luck Haydos!

  • Comment number 76.

    Hayden is a fantastic player. Sadly his recent lack of form is unacceptable by the incredibly high and justifiable standards that are set in Australian sport.

    I think he has been innovative in the way he has approached opening the innings although not revolutionary. Many openers in the past have been able to take the attack to the new ball. However i do not believe that opposition opening bowlers have been more intimidated by any other opening batsmen. Sehwags present form excluded perhaps.

    With regards to his off field comments and perceived arrogance. I believe some have crossed the line into unsporting behaviour but when all is said and done he has always backed up his comments and persona with excellent performances.

    I think it is another loss to the game of cricket, there are not too many players anymore who people "go to watch" and Hayden was at least someone who fell into that catagory.

  • Comment number 77.

    He was unpopular because of his arrogance and aggression on the field - which doesn't sit well with his supposedly strong religious beliefs. However, if he were English we would have overlooked those faults.
    You need different characters to make a great team, and the Aussies will be poorer for his absence.

  • Comment number 78.

    Hey, he WAS a flat track bully - and with a face that made you want to smack it.
    Hey, I also was so glad when lara overtook his score, at least a real class batsman got the record in the end.
    Hey, he WAS arrogant, smug, stupid and brainless with a face like a smacked 4rse, but then again, he was an Aussie, 'nuff said.

  • Comment number 79.

    Just had a sneak preview of the piece Justin Langer's written for the site about his old mate - a unique and splendid addition to this debate.

    I'll post a link to it when it goes up on the main Beeb site in the next hour, but I think you'll like it a lot - gives an insight that no-one else could...

  • Comment number 80.

    Arrogant and big headed?

    Is this the same Hayden who is a well known Roman Catholic, who uses a pink bat handle to show support for cancer victims, who has been an ambassador for World Youth day, etc etc etc......

    The only thing i got from this blog is that Tom Fordyces knowledge of Hayden was probably researched from Wikipedia 10 minutes before he posted it.

  • Comment number 81.

    Re Sussexpob's post #80:

    "Is this the same Hayden who is a well known Roman Catholic, who uses a pink bat handle to show support for cancer victims, who has been an ambassador for World Youth day, etc etc etc......

    The only thing i got from this blog is that Tom Fordyces knowledge of Hayden was probably researched from Wikipedia 10 minutes before he posted it."

    The irony of your post is that all of the points you made have been lifted straight from Wikipedia! Hello Mr Pot, my name is Mr Kettle.......

  • Comment number 82.

    Hayden relentlessly battered all bowling attacks around Australia for years before finally establishing himself as a regular in the test team. Time and again he was told that he wouldn't make it (he had many doubters in Australia in his early career), but it was Matty's belief in his own ability (and his ability itself) to dominate bowling attacks that made him the greatest opener of this generation.

    Am sad to see the end of one of the greatest test batsmen to have played the game, but the signs this summer showed that it was time to retire (the feet looked a bit heavier in the crease than in years gone by).

    His domination of India in 2001, his incredible test form after a somewhat disappointing 2005 Ashes series, his domination of the the one day game in 2007 and the 2007 WC and his consistency (for 5 consecutive years he scored over 1000 test runs per year) demonstrate his class.

    He's a very generous and charitable guy off the field as well, which probably wasn't reported in the English media. He does a lot of charity work and gives up of his precious time to help many worthy causes.

    By the way, Jacques is just back from injury and Rogers is absolutely in top form at first class level and there's a highly rated and talented 20 year old NSW opener by the name of Phil Hughes who already has 3 hundreds this season as well, who might just jump the queue for the tour of South Africa and the Ashes later this year (incidentally he's already signed for Durham this English summer).

    The future looks bright.

  • Comment number 83.

    Agree 100%

    If you're true fan of a sport you have to admire and respect the great achievers - and this we accord to Hayden.

    What we give only to a chosen few is our affection - and that's usually sparked by charisma in the sportsperson themselves.

    Hayden is many things, and probably a really nice bloke off the cricket field, but charismatic? Naaaaaah........

  • Comment number 84.

    i will remember hayden as a sledger first. he will never be in the class of the 'greats', cuz he was never well behaved on field. excuses such as 'hes there to win, not make friends etc' is pure BS.. Every cricketer out there goes to win.

  • Comment number 85.

    I am not sure whether i agree with this or not, especially as we have just seen KP dismissed for having some crazy idea about winning instead of making cosy with the ECB, but i for one will miss Hayden. He was the pantomime villain, chewing, as my friend once noted, a newspaper. Think of all the spats with England players, Simon Jones chucking the ball at him, Colly and him nearly coming to fisticuffs, him battering us everywhere in Brisbane when Jones went down injured. He won his fair share of battles with England but the ones he lost exposed a weakness which never really went away. thats a mark of respect for the 05 Ashes attack and for Hayden - he seemed invincible/immortal for so long and we should bow to that, what is a sportsman if they dont hint at the impossible?

  • Comment number 86.

    Well played Hayden. I hate to say it but as a true Englishman I could only watch and admire the way he went about his business at the top of the order, bullying and ripping apart the best bowlers in the world. Who cares if he wasn't likeable, he wasn't getting paid to be, just to set up and help win matches for Australia which he did very very well. The fact that every test nation apart from the whinging Aussies (I have to give some banter) loved to hate just shows how good he was as an opener. In today’s sport fans boo Ronaldo, Dan Carter etc because we know how destructive they can. The same was for Hayden.

    Why did his team mates love him? Because he set the tone to their batting whether in reply or setting a first innings. Home or away, he took the game to the opposition in a way no other batsmen in the world could do. Ponting, McGrath also know that if there was someone who needed to be sorted out (Singh - and he is a little weed) Hayden would be the first and not lie down.

    Test av over 50. What does the man need to do? Pure quality I say, and I'll miss booing the miserable bastard next summer.

    The Aussies loved him and we loved to hate him. From a sports purist, thank you and well played (from Hampshire CC).

    Now i am only laughing as Pontings mates depart all around him and there isn't much bowling coming through. HAH HAH AHAHAHAH

    Bring on the Ashes!

  • Comment number 87.

    As a player I thought Hayden was a bully and arrogant and showed little, if any, humilty to opposition players. These are the reasons I disliked him.


    Had he been English I'd have absolutely loved him and the way he played the game!

  • Comment number 88.

    unlucky haydos..cant all be legends mate x

  • Comment number 89.

    Probably the most over-rated and disliked batsman in the world.

    His biggest “achievement” by a long, long distance, was to be in the same team as Warne and McGrath.

    Arrogant, boorish, hypocritical and over-rated - whenever he came up against a quality quick (Ambrose, Donald, Flintoff, Steyn, etc) he was found wanting.

    He played in 13 innings against the Windies before Courtney Walsh retired following Curtly of course and in 8 of them he scored 30 or less, and against the South Africans while Donald was still playing, it was 8 from 12.

    I'm sure the same would have been the case if Australia had faced Akhtar in Pakistan and I think his performances against Freddie and Steyn are still fresh enough in the mind to not worry about those stats.

    That said, I am sorry to see him go, I was looking forward to seeing him dragging his knuckles off the field with less than 10 on the board for Australia several times this summer.

    I'll remember him as a flat-track bully who dished it out for 15 years and as soon as the Indians gave some back, went running to teacher.

  • Comment number 90.

    Good cricketer. Horrible man.

  • Comment number 91.

    BiggTiny, the point is that he WAS hugely respected as you say (that is the heading of the Blog) but the issue the blog raises is why he did not inspire more warmth or affection like a Warne, a Lara - whoever.

  • Comment number 92.

    Personally I was very pleased to hear that Hayden had retired from international cricket today. In the past he has bullied and bludgeoned his way to centuries and torn teams apart from the outset, so you can see why so many people have an opinion on him.

    Saying that though he is an opening batsman and as Michael Slater always said "the job of the opener is to take the shine off the ball" which he has done on many occasions.

    How many people were glad to see the back of Glenn McGrath? I'm sure the same goes for Hayden... They were both intense on the field but seem like nice blokes off the field.

    The question is what now for Australia??? They have lost their two openers whom were ultra succesful... Englands ashes in 2009???

  • Comment number 93.

    A good batsman, but also a sanctimonious hypocrite. The rest of the world has to make sure it can deal with his kind of bully-boy tactics - fair point. Do we have to like him as well? No. Good riddance.

  • Comment number 94.

    Totally disagree with this article, I loved watching Hayden bat, he was an amazing player - and that is what he should be judged on, not his personality. I think it's pretty sad that a legend of the game retires and all he gets is - 'yeah he was a great player but he's a billy no mates and no one in the whole world likes him, hahaha.'

  • Comment number 95.

    It says a lot about his (and his team's) dominance that even on the day of his retirement so many can't set aside their petty bitterness.

    Sour grapes from poor losers.

  • Comment number 96.


    The point im trying to make is the blog is quite ridiculous. It focused on trashy areas of a truly gifted cricketers career and ignored the fact that Hayden was a great cricketer.

    It also assumes that most people didnt like hayden, which is nonsensical, especially if you speak to your average aussie cricket fan.

    There is hardly any anaylsis of his contribution to a great aussie team, just a load of tripe about his attitude.

    Much the same as his wikipedia article! Its bad journalism

  • Comment number 97.

    Yeah, he was definitely a bully, and lacked class as a man.

    He also lacked class as a batsman, as anyone with an eye for technique that extends beyond mere stats will testify.

    However, I'm at a loss to understand why some feel his aggressive, bullying, dominant-submissive mindset to be at odds with his religious beliefs.

    Roman Catholicism is the most authoritarian, hierarchical major religion in the world today. If it played cricket, it would play exactly like Matty Hayden.

    Good riddance to him.

  • Comment number 98.

    "Sour grapes from poor losers." If the comments came from the Indians and Bangladeshis who were regularly on the receiving end when Hayden was batting, I could understand the sour grapes comments, but against England he was pony.

  • Comment number 99.

    Here's the Langer piece I mentioned earlier - very much worth a pop:

  • Comment number 100.

    As good a player as Hayden was, we all know what the Aussies do on the field, which to sledge and all the other nonsense, only an Australian side is capable of. So, when I read comments like, "he let the bat do the talking" alone has to be taken with a BIG pinch of salt. He was a good batsman no doubt but would not rate the best opening batsman or a legend etc... these superlatives somehow do not sit well on the shoulders of Hayden however broad they may be....


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