Melbourne:Justin Langer said on Tuesday he rates his long-time Test batting partner Matthew Hayden as Australian cricket's greatest opening batsman.
Australian cricket celebrated Hayden's trailblazing 103-Test career after the imposing left-hander officially announced his retirement at a press conference.
Hayden, who struggled for form in the last year of his career, will be remembered as one of the modern-day cricketing titans, amassing 8,625 runs at an impressive average of 50.74.
His departure further strips the transitional Australian cricket team of another big-name star, following the retirement of celebrated teammates Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Langer and Adam Gilchrist in the last two years.
"He's the best opener we've produced statistically and for his influence on the game," said Langer.
"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."
Hayden and Langer formed one of Australia's more durable opening partnerships in Test cricket.
Langer and Hayden (5,654) ranked second only to West Indian opening pair Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes (6,482) for most combined runs in Test cricket and shared in 14 opening stands.
Former batsman Mark Waugh said the timing of Hayden's decision was right, as it made the opening position available to younger players ahead of next month's tour of South Africa.
"He's a great player and a loss to the game, and Matthew Hayden's record shows that he was a great player," Waugh said.
"It's come to an end today and while it's very disappointing we won't see him again in Australian colours, it's a good time to reflect on how good a player he was.
"I don't want to see him struggle the way he's been struggling the last six months."
Fast bowling great McGrath said Hayden had nothing left to prove and wished him well in the next stage of his life.
"It's been an absolute honour and a privilege to play with him and even more so to call him a mate," McGrath said.
"And to me Matty is a legend of the game," he said. "His career stands alone."
Former teammate David Boon, who batted with Hayden in the Queenslander's debut innings in Johannesburg in 1994, hailed him one of Australia's greatest players of the modern era.
But Boon, a current Australian selector, declined to comment on the timing of his decision to part.