Hayden to assess future at end of series
Matthew Hayden has insisted he is not thinking about retirement yet but he will consider his future at the end of Australia's Test series against South Africa. Hayden, 37, had been keen to push on for the Ashes tour of England next year and while he has not written off the goal, his immediate focus is on the remaining two Tests against South Africa.
"I'm not looking to [the tour of] South Africa or England at this stage, I'm looking for these next two Test matches, the two most exciting Test matches of the summer," Hayden said. "I really want to play good Test cricket for this next series and then see where we're at. We've still got one-dayers and a long summer ahead of us."
Hayden has come under increasing pressure having not scored a Test century since last summer's Adelaide Test against India. He made 12 and 4 in the loss to South Africa at the WACA and during the game the coach Tim Nielsen said team management would chat to Hayden about his future at the end of the series and it would make things more difficult if he was still struggling for runs.
"Not [feeling] threatened but my own expectations have been a good measure and held me in good stead over a 20-year period," Hayden said. "My expectations are that I'm performing all the time. We all know that you're up and down in the cycle of professional sport. Currently right now I feel like I'm buoyant and striking the ball really nicely."
It is true that Hayden has shown glimpses of his best but he has also had some bad luck of late, including a couple of run-outs and questionable umpiring calls. The most blatant was in Perth when Aleem Dar decided Hayden had inside-edged onto his pad and back to the bowler Dale Steyn. Replays showed that even if the bat had been twice as wide it would not have clipped the ball
It would have been the perfect decision to challenge had the referral system been in use, as it will be on Australia's tour of South Africa in February. The players will be able to refer decisions to the third umpire but despite his personal experiences, Hayden said too much technology would not be good for the game.
"I don't think they've necessarily got the right technology," Hayden said. "For example Hawkeye I think gives you a pretty good understanding of what line the ball pitched at but take my lbw decision in the second innings, which Hawkeye had hitting the top of off. Now, unless I'm a really poor cricketer, I'm telling you that's going nowhere near the stumps. So on a height that's very, very, very questionable."
Hayden was referring to a tight call that was given not out when he shouldered arms to a Steyn delivery that angled in and clipped his pad. Batsmen have been forced to take the bad along with the good from umpires over the years and that is how Hayden thinks the game should remain.
"To my mind the great part about our game is the umpires have their own fragility," he said. "I think the crowd enjoy the fact that there is speculation about some decisions. I think that would be a very poor ingredient and certainly a flavour loss for the game if we went to the stage where everything was just so mechanical."
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo