South Africa in Australia 2008-09 December 26, 2008

All the ingredients for a Boxing Day feast

Peter Roebuck, in the Sydney Morning Herald, previews the second Test between Australia and South Africa in Melbourne. He expects the Test to live up to the hype, as opposed to India's capitulation last year at the same venue, with plenty at stake for players from both teams, particularly Matthew Hayden, who is struggling for form amid calls for his retirement.

As far as cricket is concerned, Hayden has not passed his sell-by date - but the slide has begun. By and large, batsmen are at their peaks between 27 and 34, as shrewd brain and sharp eyes work in harmony. And it goes further. Once a sportsman reaches 35 or so, he starts to wonder about his way of life, starts to think about home and hearth. Having experienced domestic bliss in small doses, he is inclined to think well of it. And so the mind loses its intensity and the player becomes a self-caricature. About a fortnight into retirement, of course, the player wearies of golf, fishing and washing up and applies for a job with Channel 9.

Siddhartha Talya is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

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