Plays of the day November 21, 2008

Heavy legs, and secrets from the wife

Matthew Hayden's 37-year-old legs are decidedly heavy © Getty Images

Heavy legs slow Hayden
Before his 99th Test Matthew Hayden gave a couple of convoluted answers to questions about how long he would stay in the game. Following a stop-start tour of India, the heat on Hayden's position continues to increase after his return of 8 and 0 in this game. Hayden was the victim of deliveries going away both times, but the ball Chris Martin opened with on Friday afternoon was pretty special as it caught the batsman's push on the way to Brendon McCullum.

One way to tell how well a player is dealing with age is to look at his footwork early in an innings. Hayden's 37-year-old legs are decidedly heavy and if he wants to extend his career to the Ashes he will need a big contribution in his 100th Test.

Lee gets physical in Ryder fall
In an Australia-India series two pats on the helmet would probably earn a match ban, but Jesse Ryder is unlikely to remember Brett Lee's gentle taps. Ryder was crouched down after being struck in the groin by a Lee delivery and by the time the bowler extended his follow-through he had started to feel slightly sorry for his conquest. Fortunately for Ryder, it was the end of the over. He needed the extra time to recover.

Run, Michael , run
There are kite runners, quotes runners, marathon runners and now hat runners. In Australia's bid to improve their over-rate they have employed Michael Hussey at times to run from gully to the bowler, who is usually at fine-leg, pick up his cap, take it to the umpire and jog back to his fielding position. It's an exercise that saves a few seconds but adds about 50 metres on Hussey's GPS. Australia delivered 25 overs before lunch, five behind the expected rate, and another 20 before the innings ended in the second session.

Gabba weathers storm season
The Gabba's reputation as the best draining ground was confirmed again following another vicious Brisbane storm on Thursday night. After sunset on day one the thunder and lightning arrived and the rain was so heavy it looked like there was a blizzard in the stadium. Puddles formed almost immediately and the wind blew the water around like a whirlpool. More showers came through the night but by morning the ground was dry and play started on time. Storms are predicted over the next couple of days.

Don't tell the wife I'm at the cricket
Friday at the Gabba is a traditional day for a sickie and while the crowd was on the small side at 11,886, there were still people hiding from the cameras, their bosses and their wives. One advertising representative, who thinks he might look like Mitchell Johnson, was enjoying his Ferris Bueller's Day Off from work and the family, spending time with his mates and being thankful that his wife actually knows he's off to the World Cup rugby league final across town on Saturday night. Two days of lies, and leaving the stadium to make quiet phone calls, takes too much effort.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo