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Peter English in Brisbane
May 5, 2008
Matthew Hayden might have spent only two weeks with the Indian Premier League, but the experience has left more than memories. As he contemplated a return to life as a Test player, Hayden joked about the changes he would need to make before the first Test against West Indies on May 22.
"Don't be surprised if you see me trying to hit over the top in the first few overs," he said. "There'll be big adjustments."
Hayden has a lot to think about over the next couple of weeks after his journey in India involved trying to launch balls out of stadiums. Regaining the defensive outlook required to deal with opening bowlers delivering red balls will be essential when Australia take their first Test steps since the 2-1 victory over India in January.
A five-day camp in Brisbane started the change in approach for the 15-man squad and Hayden spoke of the alterations while standing next to his opening partner Phil Jaques. "Jaquesy and I have to graft away for four-and-a-half hours before we get a chance to express ourselves," he said. "[In Twenty20] it's a great relief for opening batsmen to feel like you have a licence - you feel like Adam Gilchrist."
While Hayden was blasting away in the IPL, Jaques spent four weeks at home with his family after concluding his season with a Pura Cup victory. He has had some time in the nets and enjoyed his break. "I've freshened up," he said, "now it's business time."
The trip to the West Indies will be Jaques' first Test trip as a settled member of the side. In the lead-up to the previous campaign he was trying to stay ahead of Chris Rogers to take Justin Langer's place, but this time his preparations are more stress free.
"I was not guaranteed a spot this time last year," he said. "I had to work really hard to make that spot mine. In the short-term at least there's a little bit of breathing room, but everybody's got to perform and keep raising the bar."
Hayden is excited to be returning to the Caribbean, the scene of Australia's 2007 World Cup triumph, and the start of a long campaign. By the time the squad has its next major break Hayden is likely to have joined Langer in retirement.
"We're really excited about the next phase ... we have to be because it's two years of solid cricket," he said. "The West Indies holds amazing memories for me from the World Cup. I've enjoyed my cricket there as much as anywhere in the world."
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