The Ashes 2005 August 1, 2005

Invincible tells Hayden to 'play straight'

Cricinfo staff

Matthew Hayden tries a cross-bat shot at Lord's and is hit on the helmet by Steve Harmison © Getty Images

Bill Brown, the 93-year-old member of the Invincibles, has given Matthew Hayden some old-fashioned batting advice that has - unusually - been accepted. The modern game has changed so much that the styles of the 80s are already wildly outdated, but the tips to "play straight" from Australia's oldest international remain relevant, especially in England where touring players find the pitches unpredictable.

It is a recent tradition for one opener to struggle on an Ashes tour - Michael Slater in 2001 and Mark Taylor in 1997 - and Hayden has entered the series without a century since his twin hundreds against Sri Lanka in July 2004. In the past 13 Tests he has averaged 20 runs below his career mark of 52.90 and believes a change of policy is required for the second Test at Edgbatson starting on Thursday.

"Bill summed it up beautifully 10 years ago when I first spoke about coming over here," Hayden said in the Courier-Mail. "He said the longer you can play straight the better you are. It is difficult to play cross-bat shots here because you don't know the pace or the height of the wickets."

Hayden said successful innings in England didn't always look pretty. "But if you want to score a lot of runs it's what you have to do," he said. In the first Test Hayden was bowled for 12 and 34 after being unable to curb his aggressive instincts.

Brown, who toured England three times between 1934 and 1948, believed Hayden would have a good series after watching his early innings. "In England you have to adapt," he told the paper. "Get behind the ball, watch it off the wicket and play straight."