Ten IPL teams is the perfect number - Hayden
As the IPL season heads to the halfway mark, Chennai Super Kings star batsman Matthew Hayden, who participated in an online chat with Cricinfo's readers, believed that the key to reviving his side's lukewarm campaign was to get on a winning roll.
"I love the Chennai Super Kings and being in Chennai and I still believe we have a good chance to make the semi-finals, but as you know we have to start winning and keep winning," Hayden said. "Unfortunately we have had a few results which could have easily gone the other way and which would have made a great difference to our season. However I do not like to look backwards and I'm now looking forward with a very positive mind and with a very determined team to deliver the results that we know that we can achieve."
Chennai's plans of making the semi-finals have hit a rut, with five defeats, including four on the trot, out of seven games. Hayden thinks that the side's inability to strike a winning combination is to blame, but is confident that they can turn it around. "I think we have been trying to establish in the first half of this tournament what our best side is, it has changed a number of times, with mixed results. This game, coming tomorrow night, is the opportunity to have that decision to find our balance and play the cricket that our talent is capable of," Hayden said.
As expected, a lot of questions were aboutn Hayden's revolutionary Mongoose bat, which he has used with mixed results in the IPL. "I actually first started toying with the idea before the last World Cup, when I started hitting balls at practice sessions with a baseball bat and was surprised at how well I was hitting them and how far the ball would travel.
"It gave me great leverage, as you would have seen already, and there is no question it gives you extra power when you are in an attacking position and wanting to dominate the bowlers," Hayden said.
When asked whether the unusual dimensions of the Mongoose - it has a longer handle and a shorter blade than normal bats - made it difficult to wield, especially while facing short-pitched bowling, Hayden admitted that it took him a while adapting. "It was a bit intimidating at first with the shorter blade. After hitting thousands of balls with it, I was mentally prepared to play with it," he said.
Hayden welcomed the expansion of the IPL and was of the opinion that the inherent tight schedules were not to blame for the high number of player injuries during the tournament.
"I'm pleased with the introduction of the two new teams into the IPL for next season and also very happy that Mr Modi has announced there will be no more expansion for many years to come, as I believe that 10 teams is the perfect number. And I also know that if you train and prepare well for the IPL and have a very good support team around you, that injuries can be kept to a minimum, but then again, injuries are a part of the game," he said.
Hayden shed light on his unique tendency of standing well outside the crease to fast bowlers. "Standing out of the crease is a sign of strategy rather than of straight out aggression. For instance, against [Lasith] Malinga, whose execution of the yorker is second to none, I stand two metres out of the crease and the yorker becomes a knee-high full toss. This is a way of changing someone's game," Hayden explained.
He may have intimidated several bowlers during his time, with his imposing presence and aggressive intent, but Hayden admitted that it was the other way around. "Truth is I was afraid of every bowler, but I soon realised the only thing a bowler could do that could hurt me was the thing that he held in his hand, the cricket ball. Only if I watched it and executed the hundreds of thousands of balls that I have hit over my lifetime could I focus my energy on that," he said.
Hayden singled out Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, Parthiv Patel, Robin Uthappa and Shikhar Dhawan as the young Indian players to watch out for in the future.
Catch the transcript of the chat here.