Selectors expect Hayden to play on
Matthew Hayden will not use the Sydney Test as a farewell and he remains in Australia's plans for 2009, according to the chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch. Hayden has held onto his spot for the third Test at the SCG and he is in a 12-man squad with the Victoria allrounder Andrew McDonald and the fast bowlers Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger, who won selection because of injuries to Brett Lee, Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson.
Hayden, 37, has been under pressure to justify his position in the side following a lean few months but Hilditch said the selectors did not expect next week's game to be Hayden's last. "I very much doubt it," Hilditch said. "It's not the way he's practising, it's not the way he's playing and it's not the type of person he is.
"I don't like testimonial Tests for anybody. He's in the side because he's in our best Australian side. That's not an issue at all from our perspective."
Hayden has made 79 runs at 11.28 in Australia's four home Tests this year and he has not posted a century since last season. However, with tours of South Africa and England coming up in 2009, Australia's selectors remain keen for Hayden to be a fixture at the top of the order.
"He deserves the opportunities he's been given," Hilditch said. "He's having a rough trot. Obviously he's had some issues with decisions which probably haven't gone his way and he's had some run-outs and it hasn't been an easy return from injury.
"But we are really confident he'll do the job for us in Sydney. It's important he's given that opportunity because moving forward we'd still like him very much to be part of our plans."
Hilditch said it was not a time for chopping and changing the side and the younger players needed support, although three alterations were forced for the Sydney match. Watson will be unable to bowl for up to six months due to back stress fractures and Lee will have foot surgery after hurting himself during the nine-wicket defeat at the MCG. Symonds, who was also part of the series loss, will have an operation on his knee.
McDonald has been a steady performer for Victoria and is primarily a batsman who bowls effective medium-fast. He has played 44 first-class games, averaging 38.11 with the bat and 30.20 with the ball, and will play at the SCG.
"Andrew has been a very consistent allrounder for Victoria for several seasons," Hilditch said. "He is in very good form and as well as batting in the top six will give us the flexibility we need with our bowling attack."
Bollinger toured with the Test squad to West Indies and India and is favoured to be in the XI on his home surface. A left-arm fast man, Bollinger can swing the ball significantly and has 151 first-class wickets in 48 matches.
Ponting said it was unlikely both Bollinger and Hilfenhaus would debut at the SCG, where Australia will use a vastly inexperienced attack led by Mitchell Johnson. "It'll be difficult, there's no doubt about that," Ponting said of entering the match with such a young bowling line-up.
"We found it difficult enough over the last year whether it's been in India or here in Australia with guys that have played a little bit of cricket, let alone guys that have played no Test cricket. We know that they've got the raw skills and talent there but as we've seen with the younger guys it doesn't necessarily come out straight away."
Australia squad Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew McDonald, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Doug Bollinger.