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December 18, 2008
Matthew Hayden's failure at the WACA on Wednesday has raised further doubts over his international future and Justin Langer, his former Australia opening partner, believes the poor run will continue if he is uncertain about his career.
"My gut feeling at the moment - albeit he has had a couple of tough decisions, he has been run-out twice in his last four innings - is that maybe he is not sure," Langer said on ABC radio. "There are whispers about retirement, about how long he is going to go on for and that can become a distraction."
Hayden recently played his 100th Test, against New Zealand in Adelaide, but time may be running out for the 37-year-old. Playing the Ashes in 2009 should be Hayden's goal, Langer felt, as it would enable the batsman to get his focus back on run-scoring. "If he decides he wants to go to England, brilliant, he will get on [with it] and his mind will allow him to keep scoring runs," he said.
"If he doesn't, if there is a bit of a grey area, then he is going to keep going through what is, by his standards, a rough patch. The important thing is to have good communication between the selectors and Matthew Hayden, who is a great player, and they go from there."
The day started confidently for Hayden, who took three fours off Makhaya Ntini, but perished when the angle of attack was changed to around the wicket. Ntini pitched one short and got it to rise and seam away from the left-hander, and Hayden's poke resulted in a catch for Graeme Smith at first slip. It was the seventh straight time in innings against South Africa that he had fallen to Ntini. In all, Ntini has dismissed him eight times - only Harbhajan Singh has been more successful.
Hayden has not scored a century since January and he was ruled out of the West Indies tour due to an Achilles tendon injury. He has averaged 25.27 since his return for the tour of India.
Simon Katich, his current opening partner, backed Hayden to come good. "It's a tough job going out there and facing the new ball, particularly against their attack," Katich said. "He'll be disappointed with how he got out today, but he's a quality player and he'll bounce back."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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