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October 10, 2010
Matthew Hayden is a man of many talents but even he was surprised to learn he had won the 100m freestyle at the Commonwealth Games this week. The announcer in Delhi had cut off the first name of Brent Matthew Hayden - a bald, hulking figure from Canada - before the gold medal ceremony and there was brief local excitement that the batsman had swapped sports and allegiances.
Hayden the cricketer has done some swimming - but only for safety. When his fishing boat sank in the rather dangerous waters off Brisbane he and Andrew Symonds were forced to paddle to shore. Hayden, who is currently a Twenty20 player, administrator, television host, businessman and philanthropist, was definitely not in Delhi on Sunday; he was at the Gabba for the launch of his new book, Standing My Ground.
He said the high point of his on-field career was his performance at the 2007 World Cup, which included scoring 659 runs and landing a huge marlin, and the low was the 2005 Ashes loss. In front of John Buchanan, the former coach, Hayden said the boot camp in the lead-up to the 2006-07 Ashes cleansweep helped unite a previously "fractured" unit. He also told how Shane Warne, a fierce critic of Buchanan's methods, sat in a ditch during one night of gruelling exercises saying: "I'm weak, I'm soft and I want to go home."
In the book Hayden recalls asking Symonds if he still wanted to play for Australia following his suspension for going fishing in Darwin in 2008. "You have to grapple with this," Hayden said. "If you say, 'Yes, I really do want to play for Australia', you won't hear me or anyone else saying you can cut corners, because the culture is bigger than you. You have to build relationships with the media, Cricket Australia ... everyone. You have to compromise and do things you don't want to do, things you did in the past that made Australia the best team in the world."
Symonds couldn't manage it for long and walked away from the national set-up after being sent home from the World Twenty20 in 2009. Hayden said Symonds felt let down following his claim that India's Harbhajan Singh called him a "monkey" during the Sydney Test of 2007-08. Harbhajan was banned for three matches for racial abuse but it was overturned on appeal. "The verdict was a sobering jolt to us all," Hayden said.
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