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March 5, 2013
Few Australian batsmen are more qualified to give advice on scoring runs in India than Matthew Hayden and Michael Clarke, and the two men were locked in intense discussions out on the field after the end of the Hyderabad Test. Following the Chennai defeat, Clarke enlisted the help of Shane Warne to speak to the spin-bowling group and a similar scenario played out with Hayden in Hyderabad, as the Australians practised at a time when the second session should have been under way.
A makeshift net was set up around the Test-match pitch and the batsmen rotated through a centre-wicket batting session against the spinners and the two left-arm fast bowlers, Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc. While the coach Mickey Arthur and his assistant Steve Rixon watched from behind the batsman, Hayden, the batting coach Michael di Venuto and a padded-up Clarke stood to the side. They spoke between themselves and to whichever batsmen weren't in at the time, Hayden demonstrating stances and footwork during his hour-long stay.
Hayden is the only Australian who has scored more Test runs in India than Clarke's 954; his 1027 runs came at an average of 51.35 across three tours from 2001 to 2008. He entered the first tour desperately in need of some big scores to secure his place as a Test opener and he responded with 119, 28 not out, 97, 67, 203 and 35. Much of his success against spin came because he employed the sweep shot to great effect.
England's batsmen also swept well during their series victory in India late last year, but when David Warner and Phillip Hughes tried the shot against R Ashwin coming over the wicket on the third day in Hyderabad, both were bowled around their legs. Hayden, who is in India commentating on the series, said on Star Sports before the fourth day's play that Warner had fallen into the trap of sweeping a ball that was too full, meaning his stumps were vulnerable.
"The line was good to sweep. The length, though, was questionable," Hayden said. "We saw with Davey Warner that was a very full length and even though I loved to sweep the very first instinct I had in my mind was actually about whether the ball was full or not. In fact I'm sure bat-pad thought I was crazy, because as soon as I saw any width I'd yell out the word 'full' and that would get my feet moving into that position.
"The ball that we saw Hughes get out on was actually the perfect length to sweep. But what is the perfect length? Because if you're short or tall, your perfect lengths vary. That's a very personal thing. And for me the whole bat-pad routine, you're not really worried about a bat-pad if you're looking to play aggressively. They only come into play when you're feeling a little tentative or your footwork is slow and the ball is turning. You need the aggressive options.
"That's exactly why you want to either get the ball on the full to cover the spin, and also sweep on line and when the offspinner is coming around the wicket, you can't be out lbw. It's always got to be outside the line of leg stump."
The Australians batted for more than an hour and a half on the Hyderabad pitch after their innings defeat, trying out different strategies and shots. Hughes advanced to a few deliveries, which he had been reluctant to against Ashwin during the two Tests, but there remained plenty of work for all of the batsmen ahead of the third Test, which starts in Mohali on Thursday next week.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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Stats highlights from the fourth ODI between India and West Indies in Dharamsala