Aussie greats divided on dropping Hayden

Aussie greats were divided on Matthew Hayden's future even as pressure mounted on chief selector Andrew Hilditch to draw curtains to the opener's career.

updated: January 06, 2009 16:34 IST
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Australian Test greats were divided on Matthew Hayden's future even as pressure mounted on selection panel chief Andrew Hilditch to draw curtains to the opener's career.

Hayden, who has endured a horror summer of just 149 runs at an average of 16.55 from five Tests, is tipped to be axed from Australia's One-Day and Twenty20 squads against South Africa which could lead to the end of his Test career also.

Former Test wicketkeeper Ian Healy believes national selectors want Hayden for the Ashes, but he also wonders how much gas Hayden had left in the tank.

"They (selectors) are of the opinion he has earned the next stage," Healy said.

"But only Matthew knows how much energy he has got left. I could not get a read on his exit, he looked quite emotional but there was no obvious sign of bat-raising," he was quoted as saying by 'Daily Telegraph'.

Former batsman Doug Walters said Hayden should get his wish fulfilled to play on till the Ashes.

"We do need some experienced players to continue on for a little while, particularly for the Ashes tour, and I would like to see him still be there," Walters said.

"I'd like to see Matty go out on his own will, not go out on the selectors' axing block. Matty knows better than I do when his time will be up. If it is up, I say congratulations. If it's not, I wish him every success," he said.

Pace bowling great Glenn McGrath claimed Australia needed Hayden to play on in a time of transitional change, while Shane Warne also backed him to bat on.

Hayden's former opening partner Michael Slater is leading calls for a "celebration" of the big Queenslander's career if he exits from the game.

Slater said it was time to celebrate Hayden's glorious 103-Test career -- not to mourn his potential exit.

"The selectors' hands will be shown by what they do with the one-day squad. If he is to be dropped it is the cycle of the game. He's had a fabulous career and I think there's a lot to celebrate.

"If there is a change to be made let's make it, if that's the way they feel. All I'm sensing from him is that he wants to keep playing. I don't think the selectors and Ricky are ready to let him go."

Hayden himself did not give any indication that he would make exit from the game when he returned to the SCG pavilion after scoring 39 in Australian second innings.

He walked out to a standing ovation from every spectator at the ground. There were a couple of bat waves to the cheering crowd by Hayden but no grand flourishes to suggest he was walking off into a sunset after a glorious career which has netted him 8625 Test runs at 50.73.

The reaction of his wife Kellie in the grandstands was more telling. On the brink of tears, she stood up and applauded her husband as if she already knew something the rest of the cricket world still waited to hear.

Meanwhile, selection boss Andrew Hilditch is under pressure from the local media to drop Hayden from the ODI squad against South Africa.

"Hilditch must make his first decent decision of the summer by tapping Matthew Hayden on the shoulder and ending his Test career," a 'Daily Telegraph' report said.