The astonishing consistency of Hayden
The touchstone of a great Test batsman has generally been an average of 50; there are fewer than four dozen players in that elite group. When it comes to ODIs, the club gets even more exclusive – only a handful of players have a mean above 50, illustrating that averages reduce with the format.
Which makes it all the more remarkable that five more runs for Matthew Hayden before his dismissal against the Royal Challengers Bangalore on Tuesday would have taken his career Twenty20 average beyond the magic mark of 50. This, from an opener (with fewer chances for an average inflated by not outs) and in a format that demands more risk-taking in batting and little scope to see out bowlers as in the longer forms.
In the absence of the injured MS Dhoni, the Chennai Super Kings have been derided for their over-reliance on Hayden, but if a team must place its faith in one batsman in Twenty20s, it could do far worse than Hayden, who has only two single-digit scores in his past 23 innings.
The makers of the much-hyped Mongoose bat are probably thinking they have zeroed in on the perfect front-man for their product, the contrast between the hulking Hayden and the tiny bat adding to the exoticism. But this is not a man who needs the Mongoose: facing a 151.8kmh thunderbolt from Dale Steyn on a bouncy pitch at the Chinnaswamy, Hayden (using a regular bat) nonchalantly took a couple of paces down the track and cracked the ball through cover for four. Now if his opening partner, the comparatively tiny Parthiv Patel, is given the new bat, and he starts blasting the ball out of the park…well, that’s the time to buy a Mongoose.
Siddarth Ravindran is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo