On this day: Australia legend Matthew Hayden calls time on Test career


Australia opener Matthew Hayden announced his retirement from Test cricket on this day in 2009.

The then 37-year-old had been pushing to continue until that year’s Ashes series, but after disappointing displays in lost series against India and South Africa, he accepted his time was up and ended a Test career in which he played 103 matches and finished with an average of 50.73.

Arguably Hayden was far from the most technically gifted of batters, but significant mental and physical strength counted in his favour and helped him form one of the most prolific opening partnerships in Test cricket alongside Justin Langer.

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He still holds the record for the highest score made by an Australian in a Test, his 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003, and at the time of his retirement from Test cricket, he had scored the second most runs by an opening batter in the long form of the game.

But all of that came after a slow start. Though first called up ahead of the 1993 Ashes, Michael Slater was preferred for much of the tour and Hayden had to bide his time.

He got another chance against the West Indies and South Africa in 1996 and 1997, but though Hayden made 125 against the West Indies, a series of ducks saw him dropped from the team, and another frustrating wait followed.

Further call-ups came in 1999 and 2000, but it was not until 2001 – eight years after that first opportunity – that he truly nailed down his place.

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Hayden made 138 against England at The Oval in 2005 to spark a revival in his fortunes (Sean Dempsey/PA)

Hayden scored a total of 549 runs in a tour of India – an Australian record for a three-Test series – and by the end of the year, he had broken Bob Simpson’s national record for most Test runs in a calendar year.

A loss of form briefly cost him his place in 2004 and 2005, but 138 against England at the Oval that summer sparked another revival as Hayden established himself as one of Australia’s most reliable run-makers.

In the summer of 2005-06 Hayden registered five centuries – he would eventually retire with 30, third all-time for Australia – and he carried that form through to help them regain the Ashes in 2006-07 before three consecutive tons against India in 2007-08 moved him above Don Bradman on the centuries chart.

Though the end of his Test career came sooner than he wished, Hayden played on in domestic cricket until 2012 while also taking up a role with Cricket Australia to raise the profile of the sport among the country’s indigenous population.