Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell Ian ChappellRSS FeedFeeds  | Archives
Former Australia captain, now a cricket commentator and columnist

Hayden among the savages

Where did Australia's belligerent opener rank among others of similar vintage and style?

Ian Chappell

January 18, 2009

Comments: 70 | Text size: A | A

Hayden's true ability is somewhere between his hesitant start and incredible peak © PA Photos

Now that Matthew Hayden has retired, only Ricky Ponting and Brett Lee remain from the record-breaking Australian side that won an incredible 16 Test victories in a row under Steve Waugh's captaincy.

Hayden will be sorely missed. It's no coincidence that he was either injured or struggling for form in all of Australia's five recent Test losses. His dual ability to both intimidate the opposition and inflate his team-mates is a rare quality and it won't be easily replaced. There are two questions that arise following his departure: how good was Hayden, and who will replace him?

The eulogies for the belligerent opener include a ranking among the ICC top ten Test batsmen and many comments similar to Ponting's statement, "Look through the history books of the game and try and see if there has ever been a better opening batsman."

It's pointless arguing the merits of batsmen from different eras, but comparing those of similar vintage and style has some value. In Hayden's case two come to mind: Michael Slater of Australia and Virender Sehwag of India.

It should be recalled that Hayden rarely played in the highly successful Australian side from the mid-to late nineties because Slater was regularly dominating opposition fast bowling. The pair made their first tour to England in 1993, where Slater won the battle to be Mark Taylor's opening partner. Slater's position at the top of the order was never seriously challenged from then, until he began to encounter health problems. That was a big plus in Slater's favour.

Statistically speaking, if you drop the matches against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh (neither of whom should be playing Test cricket) there's little between Hayden and Slater. Staying in (balls faced per innings) and scoring runs quickly are two important aspects of batting and Slater is just ahead in both categories if you use a strike-rate-by-era comparison.

The other big decider is that Slater encountered superior pace bowling - bowlers of the highest calibre in Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers and Darren Gough at or near their peak, and flayed them on occasions.

Against those same bowlers Hayden had some of his worst moments, albeit early in his Test career. When he returned to the Australian side the standard of fast bowling had dropped off considerably. And Hayden's dip in form against the good attacks of England 2005 and more recently India and the current South African side was a reminder of his early-career struggles.

There's no doubt Hayden worked hard to improve his batting and he enjoyed a golden period following his mammoth scoring in India 2001. His true ability is somewhere between his hesitant start and incredible peak, though his worth to a successful side has been far greater.

In the Tests where Hayden and Sehwag were opposed, their records are almost identical. Sehwag has the better average score (aggregate divided by innings) and run-rate, while Hayden averaged slightly more balls faced per innings. Overall there's little between the bowlers they faced, with Australia's being superior in those early exchanges, while lately India has had the better balanced attack. There's no doubt both play a big part in their team's success.

Hayden against Slater and Sehwag
Player M Inns NO Runs HS Ave Ave Score BF BF/I RR Era RR RR/ Era RR 100s IPC 50s
Hayden 15 29 2 1339 136 49.59 46.17 2036 70.21 3.95 3.37 1.17 4 7.25 6
Sehwag 14 28 1 1400 195 51.85 50.00 1890 67.50 4.44 3.14 1.42 3 9.33 6
Hayden 96 174 13 7768 203 48.25 44.64 13156 75.61 3.54 3.40 1.04 27 6.44 26
Slater 73 129 6 5308 219 43.15 41.15 9942 77.07 3.20 2.96 1.08 14 9.21 21

BF - Balls faced, RR - Run-rate, IPC - Innings per century. Innings against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh have been excluded. Hayden-Sehwag comparison is for series in which they have played against each other

Now, who will replace Hayden?

There are primarily three candidates under consideration - Phil Jaques, Phil Hughes and Chris Rogers; all left-handers but none with the imposing aura of Hayden.

However, there is another option. He's also left-handed and has the potential to dominate opposition bowlers. David Warner, the pocket dynamo from New South Wales has yet to play a first-class game, but in Twenty20 cricket he has displayed the potential to victimise international bowlers.

The selectors have now elevated him to the one-day side, but they also need to find out if he has the same effect on opponents in the longer version of the game. This means Warner should open for NSW in Sheffield Shield cricket, but they already have two openers. Also, both Jaques and Hughes are pushing their claims for a Test berth.

This creates a dilemma for the NSW selectors, but it's worth the aggravation to discover whether Warner really is a dynamic opener in all forms of the game. The selectors need to find out quickly so that Warner can be included in the England touring party if he succeeds in Shield cricket.

Hayden could intimidate bowlers with his skill, belligerent attitude and bulky frame. Warner doesn't have the build of Hayden, but as both Slater and Sehwag showed, it's not size that matters - it's packing a punch at the top of the order that really counts.

RSS Feeds: Ian Chappell

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by duckadder on (January 21, 2009, 14:29 GMT)

I would like to see how many occasions he has top scored for his side in an innings, or indeed in a match. If we really want to prove or disprove the flattrack bully reputation, then it would surely be informative to look at the amount of times he prospered when his teammates couldn't?

Posted by rgom on (January 21, 2009, 12:31 GMT)


The fact is Hayden would have spent less time in the field before opening whenever Australia batted second. With Warne and McGrath demolishing teams, Hayden most ofent did not face the pressure of having to surmount huge first innings total.

Don't underestimate the fact that Hayden was surrounded by great players! Is it a coincidence that in the last year, even the awesome Ponting has become less stellar (When many of the great players retired)?

Posted by rgom on (January 21, 2009, 12:23 GMT)

Hayden should not rank among the all-time greats, probably not even the comtemporary greats. He was an excellent player, but that is about it. He was lucky to be part of a team that had many great players. He struggled whenever the Australian team has not been great (pre 1995 and post 2006). It's merely a conicidence? If you want to establish that he was indeed a great player, show me the number of times he did well when others around him struggled. Sehwag, Gavaskar and Lara have all done that. He has been "not out" 14 times. That is too high for an opening batsman. Without the numbers to back up, it is reasonable to guess that most of those "not outs" came when in the fourth innings Australia required 150 or so to seal the match and Hayden faced demoralised bowlers that no hope. For those who argue that Hayden faced fresh bowlers, so did all openers.

Posted by crickethistory on (January 21, 2009, 11:49 GMT)

I couldn't quite work out whether this article was intended to praise Slater (Chappell's fellow Channel 9 commentator), discredit Hayden or a bit of both. Either way I find this article an insult to Matt Hayden. If you read carefully it has been done in a subtle way by Chappell. Slater was a good opening batsman for Australia. However, Hayden is a class (or two) above Slater. Hayden was much better than his test average of 50.73. He was an aggressive opener and I lost count of the number of times he was dismissed playing a big shot. Had he batted conservatively (like Gavaskar or Boycott) his average would have been a lot higher. But that wasn't his style and that's what made him a pleasure to watch in ALL forms of the game. In 2000 I can remember him being run out twice by his batting partner in Brisbane and Adelaide tests when he looked set to make big scores. His batting partner was none other than Michael Slater. Hayden is the greatest opening batsman Australia has ever produced.

Posted by Rajesh. on (January 20, 2009, 18:56 GMT)

Hayden was good, very good but perhaps not in the same bracket as Gavaskar or Barry Richards....... I'm not taking anything away from Hayden, he was bloody good, even great but perhaps just a bit short of all-time greatness....... As for the comments here about Virender Sehwag he is a maverick. And what a maverick ! A one of a kind !! And it won't be fair to judge him till he is finished..........

Posted by Shivabala_Balaji on (January 20, 2009, 16:54 GMT)

Ian Chappell is not conveying the total contribution done by Hayden. Why compare only Test innings?? What about other forms of cricket? ODI's and Twenty Twenties. It is an absolute insult to compare Hayden with Warner as of today. As far as comparision with Michael Slater Hayden has played roughly 25% more test cricket than Slater and therefore Hayden has contributed more. Hayden has more runs, more average than any other Australian opening batsmen. Last but not the least Hayden has contributed more to Australian cricket as a player than Ian Chappell himnself.

Posted by Aussieicon91 on (January 20, 2009, 14:28 GMT)

Slater is slightly better then Sehwag and Hayden is way better then Slater. Neither Sehwag or Slater deserve to be mentioned in the same breathe as Matthew Hayden, to be honest. Neither of them would be able to score 30 Test hundreds in 94 matches no matter what era they played in.

A good core of Sehwag's matches have been played in the subcontient. His not to dissimilar to Chris Gayle; as both are flat-footed and just slog. If Sehwag was in Gayle's position then he'd struggle to average over 40.

The idea of Hayden being a flat-track bully is a total myth. Curtly Ambrose is the only bowler who can say he really got the better of Matthew Hayden. Hayden scored International 100's against Wasim, Waqar, Saqlain, Shoaib, Murali, Pollock, Donald, Kumble, Walsh, Ntini and Flintoff - That's a fact!

Posted by eddie1 on (January 20, 2009, 12:30 GMT)

Interesting article. But I don't believe that anyone should be revising history and removing stats from anyones record. Hayden faced the opposition put in front of him and scored the runs, this cannot be taken away from him. I will tell you personally that plenty of English bowlers in the past who bowled a full off stump length to Bradman, were pitiful. Do we recalibrate his stats? NO. Neither should this be done with Hayden, otherwise you end up with an Average for the Don of 56 (Bodyline series 32). I have seen enough videos of very average bowling in the 50s - 80s, where this era maybe should also be revised. So don't give Hayden a diservice. Otherwise you appear to begrudge his success. He has given his fans a huge service over his test career. He is a GREAT player.

Posted by ShortMemory on (January 20, 2009, 10:46 GMT)


I would have wished to see a line or two on how hayden handles spin bowling ! If you look at "Bowlers of the highest calibre" you should also look at spinners. And hayden had been magnificient against the top quality spin ! In contemperory cricket, opener needs to play well against spin too. And the era of good fast bowling (80's) had good spinners but no "Anil" or "murali" or "harbhajan against aussies"

Posted by ShortMemory on (January 20, 2009, 10:40 GMT)

sFAy, Even if you drop 115 wickets from murali, he ends up somewhere around 500 plus. So, i don't think any sort of stats or any intrepretation of the same would take even a bit of murali's achievement !

Posted by zohebchampion on (January 20, 2009, 9:29 GMT)

i find it amusing to see some comments questioning hayden's lack of techniques. actually what is the meaning of technique ? if a guy can play 103 test matches , score 30 hundreds and average 50.73 without any technique why should one bother for technique ? if he is accused of not playing top quality bowlers ,same accusation goes to all contemporary top players like ponting,tendulker,kallis , sangakara, pieterson etc.

he was a great opening batsman and it will be very hard for australia to find a replacement of his quality.


Posted by DrSunil on (January 20, 2009, 0:34 GMT)

Haydon is a world class muscular opener from Australia in line with Desmond Hayenes & Gordon Greenidge from Golden era of West Indies Team, Mighty Graham Gooch from England, Dynamo Virendrar Sehvag from India, Booming Kaluthwarana from Sri Lanka. World is lucky to witness so great mighty openers to make your day. On the other hand class openers like Geoff Boycott, Sunil Gaveskar were peerless for playing super fast bowlers of their time and blunt them.

Posted by Stevo_ on (January 19, 2009, 19:28 GMT)

@krishnachovishya - he has done it , averages around 47 in Sri Lanka I think, highest score of 130,

Posted by Stevo_ on (January 19, 2009, 18:27 GMT)

Ian, "Statistically speaking, if you drop the matches against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh (neither of whom should be playing Test cricket)"

Does that mean I can take 115 wickets off Muralis tally ??

Posted by SSRajan on (January 19, 2009, 16:54 GMT)

For a batsman who bullied good for nothing pace attacks and always-REPEAT- ALWAYS struggled against good bowling, the comment by Ponting to look through history books to find a better opener is amusing at the least. Hmmm. Lets see!! Gavaskar, Boycott, Greenidge, Haynes, Roy Fredericks, Simpson, Lawry, Barry Richards. Do I still need to expand the list??

Posted by Aussieicon91 on (January 19, 2009, 15:49 GMT)

The lack of cricketing knowledge from comments in response to this article is embarrassing and in a better term - pathetic.

After 94 Tests, Hayden had scored 30 Test Hundreds. The guy averaged over 50 for over 100 Tests, playing every single-innings as an opener.

You can't possibly discredit the bowlers he faced because he played in an era which featured the top 3 leading wicket-takers in the history of Test Cricket and he averaged over 50 against the 2 he played against - Anil Kumble and Muttiah Muralitharan.

He faces the bowlers when they are fresh and more often then not he'd have to come out and open the batting after spending days in the field and he still managed to average over 50. The likes of Hobbs, Sutcliffe and Hutton all got days off in the middle of Test matches when it came to this and they were probably only facing medium-trundlers anyway.

Some of you people really don't know what you are talking about and only tell half of the story.

Posted by bat_bowl_field on (January 19, 2009, 15:23 GMT)

i agreed with Christian Ryan's article from a few weeks ago. Matt Hayden was a highly overrated player who lacked the batting technique to stand up to quality Test attacks. He would have been better suited to tennis with that forehand. He rarely performed against quality fast bowling and was a flat track bully. As for his replacement, Chris Rogers is probably the best though i havent seen much of Hughes. And Warner? A mere one-hit wonder.

Posted by mctsek007 on (January 19, 2009, 12:46 GMT)

Australia has in the past couple of years lost some of the best players ever seen in the world , World beaters , whom we all wait and wonder if they will ever be replaced . Langer , Warne , McGrath and no the Hayden. The made cricket the game it is today , and a pleasure to watch. These are guys who worked really hard to be at the top and boy did they dominate.

Posted by Desmodeus on (January 19, 2009, 12:44 GMT)

...cont Hayden's 380 at the WACA is a case in point, I was at the WACA for the second day (he started the day on about 180ish as I recall) and while he was certainly impressive the pitch was the most batting friendly I've seen at the WACA and the Zimbabwe attack was made up of medium pacers who could be troublesome if there was sideways movement but would, frankly, struggle to dismiss my grandmother on a good batting track (ok I'm probably being a bit hard on the Zimbabwean bowlers, but they really did look toothless that day. Don't forget Gilly made a ton in no time flat at the other end).

Moving on to who I do rate among players I've seen a reasonable amount of, Greenwich and Haynes have to be in the list as does Gavaskar. Sehwag is an absolute monster when in form but is a tad inconsistent to be ranked among the greats in my opinion (still a heck of a lot of fun to watch though).

Finally on the David Warner comment, get a grip Chappelli, the boy's played one good T20 innings.

Posted by Desmodeus on (January 19, 2009, 12:35 GMT)

IMO the critical difference between players in the last say 10 - 15 years and those from earlier eras is that the playing conditions have skewed greatly in favour of batsmen in recent years. It's not necessarily that the bowlers were better in the past, they just bowled in conditions that were more favourable for bowling. That said I personally rate Hayden as suburb in easy batting conditions but only ok in tough conditions. I watched a lot of Hayden's test innings (admittedly mostly in Australia as matches overseas weren't televised here until recently) and while I don't remember which bowlers dismissed him I do remember seeing him struggle to handle sideways movement either off the pitch or through the air...

Posted by Vakbar on (January 19, 2009, 10:26 GMT)

Excellent article. One of several from Aussies, who have taken a cold-eyed approach to Hayden and factored in the quality of the pace bowling faced. The comparison with Slater is most pertinent. No real expert of the game would dispute Slater's superior, but more cavalier, talent. Very good batsmen, but very far from great.

Ponting's statement clearly reveals he not only does not know the history of the gamse (Hobbs, Gavaskar anyone?), but is so one-eyed he does not even recognise that there is a guy called Sehwag who is decimating many batting records at the top of the order.

Posted by riteshjsr on (January 19, 2009, 7:58 GMT)

Trust Ian Chappel to come up with interesting insights, however, in this article he's just presented stats. What I'll be more interested in, is wanting to know how does Chappel rate him as an opening batsman. There is no doubt in my mind that Hayden was one of the best openers in the modern era. However, I guess Ponting just got carried away bidding goodbye to Hayden when he said he was the greatest opener ever. Truth is he was far from it. Gavaskar, Slater, Sehwag, Haynes, Gooch have been outstanding. Sehwag and Hayden have played their cricket in the same era and Sehwag's influence on a match is much greater. He has single handedly changed the complexion of games that he has played in. So Ponting needs to study a little more history. On who should replace Hayden, I guess Jacques seems the logical choice, however, I'm a huge fan of Shaun Marsh. His recent showing in the ODIs against SA have been impressive. He is one of the most gifted and natural strokemakers in the world.

Posted by CustomKid on (January 19, 2009, 6:52 GMT)

Love him or hate him, Hayden's record speaks for itself. At some stage or another he destroyed every bowling attack in the world. He had a slow start and end but during the middle years he was the incredible hulk of world cricket. Don't forget his bucket sized hands either. He was one of the best gully fielders in world cricket before moving to first slip where he was equally as good.

As for Amitkumaronnet comments I think that is a little premature my friend. Given Hayden does his job at the top of the order before Ponting walks to the crease, you could also say he takes the shine off the ball and makes life easy for Ricky and the middle order??

With regard to bowlers propping up his skills/ability I'd guess 60-65% of the time he has usually laid a foundation 2 days before any of his bowlers are called on to attack the opposition batsmen/defend a target and actually work up a sweat. Comments like that are simply foolish. He was a great and will be remembered as a great opener

Posted by ImpartialObserver on (January 19, 2009, 6:50 GMT)

What about Shuan Marsh? I feel he is a well rounded player since he played wonderfully in the IPL and also tempered his game to suit the ONE-DAY needs. And he is a wonderful fielder to boot! Further, he has already had experience playing in the international arena and also experienced the 2 most diverse playing conditions in Australia and India.

I guess he should merit very highly in the list too.

Posted by aparvaiz on (January 19, 2009, 6:02 GMT)

i am surprised at the people being so much all praise for michael slater, his test average is 42.83 and his odi average is 24.07. I absolutely dont think that haydos is the best ever opener to have played, but i would like to believe in the numbers as far as it is concerned for comparing slater and hayden.

Posted by CricketGod on (January 19, 2009, 4:30 GMT)

Interesting article, but would have liked to see Jayasariya in the mix

Posted by IPLisdull on (January 19, 2009, 3:14 GMT)

An interesting article Chappelli, but Warner already? Lets not get carried away by one innings (no matter how good) in a Twenty20 match. Whilst i agree he has pushed his claim for a first class debut, talk of him touring to England in a few short months is premature, and a tad ludicrous. Michael Vaughn and Jayasuriya would make interesting comparisons also.

Posted by rohanbala on (January 19, 2009, 2:22 GMT)

All talks of Hayden as a "flat-track" bully seems quite ridiculous. If the records of many players against the so-called "inferior" opposition (Bangladesh/Zimbabwe etc) are not taken into account, the average of any batsman will not cross 30. Another silly argument doing the rounds is that the particular player has not faced his own team mates bowling etc. If this is the method to judge a player, we will find no one.

Posted by amitkumaronnet on (January 19, 2009, 2:18 GMT)

One plain fact being missed about Hayden is that he scored 22 of his 30 centuries in Australia, his away average was a just good 42. He scored most of his runs in the familiar australian conditions. Unleash Wasim Jaffer on Indian wickets and he too will do that on his given batting grounds. Nothing great in Hayden's achievements. Only a home advantage taker with more highly skilled bowlers like McGrath and Warne and batsman like Ricky around made his task easier. He can't be included as world's great because of pure stats itself.

Posted by henchart on (January 19, 2009, 1:59 GMT)

It is indeed unwise to compare batsmen of differnt era but I feel the greatest opening batsmen ever is Gavaskar.13 tons against fearsome Windies attack of 70s and early 80s is proof enough of the little master.But again have his knocks saved India ,well,no.By that yardstick Dravid,Steve Waugh ,Viswanath and Ganguly have played vital innings which led to their teams winning or drawing tests.Even the maestro Tendulkar falls short in this area save for his recent knock in Madras .

Posted by rgom on (January 19, 2009, 1:28 GMT)

I guess Ian Chappell is qualified to work for wall street. He is quite artful with numbers. What sense does it make to compare Sehwag and Hayden taking into account only the matches they have played against each other? Conditions were the same. However, if you take the matches they have played against the next five or six major teams, which means they have faced pretty much the same bowlers, that is more likely to show a more accurate picture.

Posted by Cam_PT on (January 19, 2009, 0:31 GMT)

I've heard this before from Chappell. I'm surprised though for someone like him to use stats to base an argument. Because quite frankly stats reveal that Slater was actually quite rubbish, relatively speaking (he averaged 35 away from home, but averaged 60 against the weakest team Sri Lanka, a first class average of just 40). He only stayed in the team keeping Hayden out because Australia was winning. Same with Taylor. Who can forget his long run of failures??? The argument that Hayden dominated minnows is absolute baloney. He only played 2 Test Matches against Zimbabwe and 4 against Bangladesh for an average of 33. Hardly makes a difference to be honest. It's interesting to note too though that Hayden's average away from home is quite alot less too. The best players are those that are consistently good everywhere, no doubt.

Posted by tomjs100 on (January 18, 2009, 23:42 GMT)

I agree with Chappell; Slater was a wonderful wonderful player. I remember him for 2 moments in particular. First, when he was playing county cricket in about 1998 and stepped jet-lagged off a plane from Aus, and went and blasted a brilliant, faultless century in a one day game. Secondly and the moment most people remember him for, was the first test of the 2001 ashes series at Lords. England had been 191-8, but Alec Stewart's counter attack had dragged them upto 294. The players walked out for a session of about an hour, and unsurprisingly, the England bowlers had their tail up, with the sniff of being able to bundle a few batsmen out before the close of play, and delighted they'd managed to get upto 294. Slater cracked Gough's first over for 4 4's, reached 50 off 48 balls, and finished the day on 70 odd not out off about 80 deliveries. Wonderful stuff, great shots & a real battle in the evening sunshine & lengthening shadows. Hayden, I'm afraid, was a bully not a hero.

Posted by Mad_Hamish on (January 18, 2009, 21:55 GMT)

With regards to the theory that "Hayden also had a vulnerability to the fastest bowlers, Flintoff, Ambrose, Walsh, Steyn, Bond, and Wasim"

Bond dismissed Hayden once in tests, Akram never, Flintoff got Hayden a fair amount of times but Hayden averaged over 50 in the last Ashes series he played against him and Hayden's average score when dismissed by Flintoff was 45. Walsh and Ambrose did well against him in 96-97 but even in that series he averaged mid 30s, Steyn played him in 1 series right at the end of Hayden's career which doesn't show that he would have done anything against him a year or two back. Donald dismissed Hayden once...

Posted by CricketPissek on (January 18, 2009, 21:12 GMT)

@Parth_Pala - to be fair to Charindra, Sanath is from the same mould (in fact, he pre-dates both Sehwag and Hayden, and Slater probably), it's just that as you mentioned, he did not perform nearly as consistently. As far as test cricket goes, he's a "Sri Lankan Great" but overall, nothing to write home about except for his high strike rate. Afridi would be from the same mould as well i suppose, but will sit well below Sanath in ratings/rankings. Haydos has proved himself in almost all conditions, and although i do not like him or his attitude at all, i have to admit he's right up there as one of the biggest performers ever. He'll be missed....not by me... but by a few people am sure :)

Posted by Statsmatter on (January 18, 2009, 21:02 GMT)

Warner got lucky!! One international innings followed by 2 failures and the experts are calling for David Warner to be included in the selection mix for Australia. C'mon Chappelli the guys playing beach cricket could get lucky in T20. You only have to look at the State T20 teams to realize that this form of cricket is unique and NOT a selection process for higher honors.

Posted by zapper22 on (January 18, 2009, 19:20 GMT)

Thus being said, Haydos was and always will be a flat-track bully and a minnow basher. Posted by Big_DAAAAAAAH_Bomber on January 18 2009, 12:30 PM GMT-----

well out of his 103 test matches, he played only 6 matches v. Zim and Bangaldesh combined. So how does equate to him being a minnow basher? Also, you have conveniently forgotten the other series played against SA and Ind, where Haydos plundered quite a few runs against the "quality" attacks. As for Sehwag's triple hundred in Chennai V SA, i guess it was on the flatest pitch that could be rolled out for a test match. In fact, even a struggling Rahul Dravid scored a century. As for 380 v Zim, he scored it against a zim team before the player exodus----the same attack against which players like Sachin,Lara or the other "greats" used to play test matches.

Posted by riz2g00d on (January 18, 2009, 18:47 GMT)

I don't know why we are against hayden. Yes he was very good batsman. The thing is we are comparing him to all time great where else he have his own quality we should not forget. As far as good bowling is concerned than sachin,lara,dravid,ponting etc are also from same era. Will we not count them as great batsman.

Posted by cricky.com on (January 18, 2009, 18:07 GMT)

Ian, forget the stats(they are like mini skirts,remember sidhu) and the foolish ICC rankings....How do you rate him.Will very much like to know that.

Posted by mmoosa on (January 18, 2009, 17:54 GMT)

Sehwag averages 27 against S.A in S.A and from a South African perspective always seems more vulnerable than Hayden at his best. Sehwag seems vulnurable to the short ball or the moving ball and has never played a match-winning innings against S.A.whilst Haydos has played many. With Sehwag you always feel like you're in with a chance. His one mammoth innings of 319 skews his average. Hayden was much more intimidating for S.A teams

Posted by kingofspain on (January 18, 2009, 17:15 GMT)

David Warner? A year from now no one will even remember who he is. Scoring quickly is vastly overrated in the longer form of the game. Sure there are situations where it's handy but it's hardly a prerequisite for an opening batsman.

Posted by dan24 on (January 18, 2009, 16:59 GMT)

Finally an article that states the absolute truth albeit in this case the focus is on Hayden specifically. The fact is that when confronted with the likes of Ambrose, Walsh, Donald, De Villiers in his early stages of his career... he struggled. This point should not be forgotten when looking at the massive successes of the Australian team over the past 8 or so years. Warne and McGrath are champions, once in a lifetime, however who has really challenged Australia's batsmen (including Hayden) over the past 8 years. Not very many fast bowlers have averaged under 25 in Test cricket from other nations with the exception of Pollock over this time. Add to all this, pitches have become ridiculously flat and too much in favour of batting. So much less needs to be said about some of these so called "champions"... The Windies team in my opinion was far superior.

Posted by syrinaboy on (January 18, 2009, 16:39 GMT)

I think we are forgetting the great West Indian Pair, Gordon Grinnidge and Desmond Haynes

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (January 18, 2009, 16:12 GMT)

Ian Chappell does a rather botched job in comparing the careers of Hayden, Slater and Sehwag as he fails to mention the career troughs of the latter two, including both being dropped from their national teams, while emphasising the same trials of Haydens. Also according to Chappell, and it seems many other contributors, Hayden has only done well because of the poor quality of the bowlers he has faced, which with all due respect to Ian Chappell is simply wrong. Chappell, like all commentators, is guilty of looking at the bowlers of the past through rose coloured glasses. When you see modern batsmen like Hayden or Sehwag standing a foot out of their crease to play someone bowling at 150 kmph you know the game is changed forever and that fast bowlers are not the threat they once were. As for the much talked about McGrath and Warne factors, I'd suggest having a look at their Australian Sheffield Shield bowling figures. Warnes in particular make interesting reading.

Posted by Abhithen on (January 18, 2009, 15:35 GMT)

Aussies opening pair have always been like they better their previous opening partners.... Taylor-slater were replaced by hayden-langer and now both these mammoth run-getters have retired, its time to fill the gap. One potential opener has already come their way in the form of Shaun Marsh who is very solid and may be a good opener for Aussies for a long run. Its arguable that David Warner can be his partner but only in T20's and one dayers to an extent. I did not expect Chappell to say he would be a good test prospect. They need someone who can support Marsh because Marsh can change his style according to the situation like Matthew Hayden.What they want is a right hander who has experience and build some good partnership at the start of the innings.

Posted by AjayB on (January 18, 2009, 14:44 GMT)

There seems to be a systematic effort all around to make Hayden look and sound better than he is. Followers of cricket are smart enough and informed enough to know what the truth is. The ICC rankings and all articles surrounding his departure. Truth is - unlike several of the masters, he struggled to keep his place in the team in the early stages of his career and also in the late stages of his career. Just as an opener I think and am sure may will agree with me that Gavaskar, Greenidge, Haynes, Boycott, Sehwag, Slater, Saeed Anwar are all better than him. I think all the writers should stop trying to influence and guide opinions. My opinion of him, well he was good - but not worthy of the ink being wasted on him, trying to make him look good. He just is not that great.

Posted by FatBoysCanBat on (January 18, 2009, 12:30 GMT)

Test_Match_Fan: you said you disagree that Sehwag faced a vastly superior attack, yet you contradict yourself by saying that McGrath and Lee are better than Zaheer and co. So, Sehwag did face a vastly superior attack as he faced the best bowlers. You need to understand the meaning of words before making foolish statements. Having said this, I disagree that Hayden is better than Sehwag because Sehwag got triple hundreds against top test nations (Pak and SA ) as opposed to Hayden's (Zimbabwe). Hayden is a flat-track bully as he went missing on more difficult surfaces, he also missed out in the big situation, 2005 ashes, Aus vs. Ind 2008, Aus vs SA 2008-09, and to some extent the 2006-07 ashes. Hayden also had a vulnerability to the fastest bowlers, Flintoff, Ambrose, Walsh, Steyn, Bond, and Wasim, just to name a few. Thus being said, Haydos was and always will be a flat-track bully and a minnow basher.

Posted by Mad_Hamish on (January 18, 2009, 12:07 GMT)

Sure Hayden couldn't play good spin. Hence his mere average of 47 in Sri Lanka and 51 in India.

Posted by fyrestorm on (January 18, 2009, 11:07 GMT)

Good article by Chappelley.@zapper22. Yes I think the West Indian batsman of that time were over-rated barring Viv Richards. The quality of bowling in their side was far superior to the rest of the world (barring, hadlee and lillee, and maybe a few others). As for your comment on Zaheer, Zaheer has never reached his full potential, but he is close to it now. Hayden battered Zaheer when he was bowling poorly. IMO, Hayden was a great opening batsman. But Sehwag bats like nobody else in the history of test cricket (barring Gilchrist, but Gilchrist batted at number 7), and certainly as an opener he is phenomenal. And if you ask bowlers around the world who they dread bowling to most, many would mention Viru. With the dwindling popularity of Test cricket worldwide, Sehwag is one that makes it worth watching 'nuff said.

Posted by D.V.C. on (January 18, 2009, 10:34 GMT)

Surely the title of this article should be 'Hayden among the savagers' not 'Hayden among the savages'. The former implies he savaged attacks, the latter that he comes from an uncivilized society!

Posted by Parth_Pala on (January 18, 2009, 10:08 GMT)

Charindra : because unlike Hayden and Sehwag, Jayasuriya is no where near the class of these two batsmen in tests. His average is well below par and he has no where near the hundreds and fifties of these two batsmen not to mention both of whom are younger one by a decade almost. Regardless though unlike Slater Hayden is a flat track bully. The bowlers in the last 10 years have been found wanting. Unlike Slater the boowlers Hayden faced i.e Donald and Ambrose which destroyed him and he wasn't back for a good 8 years. Slater was a proven batsmen with Taylor. In recent times Hayden and Ponting were completly outdone by Zaheer and Ishant two bowlers who resemble the older days and of course Dale Steyn. Makes you wonder of the true class of these batsmen.

Posted by jimbond on (January 18, 2009, 9:54 GMT)

Sehwag a second innings player? which statistics is paullie referring to? His first innings average is 64.64 as compared to his second innings average of 31.44. As for Hayden's greatness, I would just look at his averages in won, drawn and lost matches, which are 55.54, 60 and 30 respectively. Goes on to show how important a member he was in the successful Aussie teams of the past two decades- in fact one can even say that a large part of the team success was due to him. For a player, this much is enough.

Posted by Charindra on (January 18, 2009, 9:31 GMT)

How is Sanath Jayasuriya not "of similar vintage and style" to hayden??

Posted by cricaddict9118 on (January 18, 2009, 9:11 GMT)

i dont think hayden can be placed in the list of great openers of all time. He palyed for most part of his career in an already established champion side having champions(warnie,mcgrath,gilly,waugh bro's). Also he never has been successful when the going got really tough(ashes 2005),add to this his vulnerability to left armers(zak gettin him 7 times),also most of his hundreds hav come in aus(6-7 out of 30 at mcg itself),even muzumdar can do that(if given cahnce). also he never had to worry about what if i get out early????(punter,martyn,waugh,huss,pup,gilly were always waiting in the wings). Neither did he had to face duo of warnie n mcgrath(best bowlers of his era), nor he had to be worried abt pacy n bouncy bowler like lee. these all reasons r enough to put him in the list of just good opening batsman!!!!!

Posted by Test_Match_Fan on (January 18, 2009, 9:08 GMT)

Great analysis by Ian Chappell. Just slightly disagree that Sehwag faced a vastly superior bowling attach. The likes of McGrath and Lee. Zaheer Khan and Co. do not come close, so Sehwag's record is superior. Another difference is that Sehwag goes in and out of form very quickly (regardless of bowling attack's quality), making a selector's job very tough, while Hayden stays in a given form for a while making the selector's job easy

Posted by zapper22 on (January 18, 2009, 9:05 GMT)

All these comments about struggling against quality bowling are just plain silly. Zaheer Khan "the quality " bowler has been around for the last 7-8 years and he managed to trouble hayden in a couple of games in india and all of a sudden its Hayden who could not face "quality" bowling, while conveniently forgetting that Zaheer had been taken to the cleaners on more than one ocassion by Hayden. And then there is Ashes 2005..well apart from Simon Jones, was it not the same attack that was whitewashed by Hayden and Co in 18 months' time? So how is it that failure in a couple of series is considered as failure to play "quality" attacks, while sustained period of dominance over the same "quality" attack is overlooked? And then there is another argument that as he did not face his own bowling attack his averages got better---well then by the same logic the averages of Richards, greenidge and Haynes were better because they never faced Marshall and Co., so does it make them inferior players?

Posted by Governor on (January 18, 2009, 8:47 GMT)

Chappelli does have a point. Taylor and Slater scored their runs against good quality bowling back in the 90s, whereas Hayden really struggled against a top class test attack in 2005 and against India and South Africa in the 2008-09 season.

I would rate the Taylor and Slater opening partnership as the best opening partnership in Australian cricket history. They scored their runs against top class bowlers (Ambrose, Walsh; Akram and Younis; Gough and Caddick; Donald and Di Villers) whereas Hayden and Langer only stumbled onto the England pace quartet of 2005.

I would rush in David Warner into the one day comp to see what he is made of. We have nothing to lose.

And, I would pick Warner and Hughes to tour England.

From the perspective of body language and sheer presence, I would rate Hayden alongside Greenidge and Haynes. Greenidge imposed himself onto the opposing bowlers.

Posted by Parthahs on (January 18, 2009, 8:34 GMT)

Well nothing to comment on hayden he is grate batsman.... But got registered only for the comment made on Bangladesh by Ian. Well a lot of people are making these comments for a long time publicly and I think its time for those to end and start supporting the team. I really do not know why people are saying this as ICC has made a conscious decision about this a long time ago. There are other countries that have taken longer to win a test match than Bangladesh and I think their last couple tests performance shows that they can do better (even in losing they fought)... Please countries who have played the game for longer time and are good have that type of comment to make. We minnows (what u call us) will go there ...

Posted by ian_ghose on (January 18, 2009, 8:01 GMT)

A lot of people have tried to belittle Hayden by saying that he was good against lesser attacks and that he rarely got tested by good bowling. Who were the best bowlers of the 90s? McGrath and Warne come to mind right away, neither of whom played for the same state as Hayden does (Queensland). So in all likelihood he would have had to show his mettle against these two and a young and fiery Brett Lee , time and again to come into reckoning for the national team. If you check his domestic stats you'll see that he scored tons of runs against these two and Lee, Australia's best 3 on pitches that weren't as batsman friendly as the ones on which Sehwag and friends bat these days. How many hundreds did Sehwag score against McGrath? Cant think of too many...

Posted by Shafaet on (January 18, 2009, 7:51 GMT)

A great is a player whose place cant be filled, if the place could be filled he wouldnt called great. so australians mustnt expect than young guys like haddin, warner, jacques, kreja can replace hayden, gilly, warne, macgrath. they hardly can replace Martin too. If they were easy to replace we could see tons of gilly,lara,pollock. Shewag is a fantastic player no doubt & he's better than heyden. the stance of hayden is what feary for the bowlers, when he comes at the crease it always seem he is ready to blast, whether he's in form or not. and GREAME SMITH should've got a mention. He is attacking, determined, capable of dominating any bowling attack & he's better than anyone in fourth innings. Smith will soon become a legend, have no doubt. excluding bangladesh match is not fare cuz though they struggle wth bat, they've farely good bowling attack. but in case of bowler's stat, bangladesh's match should be excluded cuz their batting is usually horrible

Posted by andy44 on (January 18, 2009, 7:50 GMT)

Excellent article. Really well put. I'd like to add that pitches have held up much better over five days, since Hayden has dominated. Whereas Slater had to contend with the infamous SCG and WACA pitches of the mid nineties - not to mention the raging turners on the sub-continent - pitches this century have been more and more docile throughout a test, hence we see targets of 300+ chased down quite frequently compared to yesteryear. Hayden probably had a lot more in his favour as an opener than Slats.

Posted by Mad_Hamish on (January 18, 2009, 7:18 GMT)

There appears to be some selective memory operating here

Slater's performance in tests against the Windies m i no runs hs av bf sr 100s 50s 13 23 2 789 106 37.57 1536 51.36 1 4

all 4 of the 50s came after Ambrose had retired...

Which is comparable to Hayden's single series when Walsh and Ambrose were both there for much of the series. Hayden's 47 in the second innings in Perth of that series was impressive, it being a pitch where Ambrose's bat actually stuck in a crack and Blewett got bowled by a shooter from Ambrose...

So Hayden did face Ambrose and Walsh in some tough conditions.

Slater did do a bit against Akram and Younis but he never made a 100 against RSA...

I'd also query Hayden having little success against quicks at the end of his career, his last 2 series were poor but he performed against everyone leading up to that

Posted by Faiz24 on (January 18, 2009, 7:11 GMT)

I am not an Aussie fan,but i'd still say that Hayden is one of the best openers but certainly not the very best.But to rate him 10th in the all time list by the ICC is an exaggeration.Sehwag is definitely better than Hayden.

Posted by krishnachovishya on (January 18, 2009, 7:00 GMT)

I think Hayden will be remembered more for his arrgance than his stats. Also, I think the era in which he scored most of his runs was Australia's dominance which was more of a result of McGrath/Warne effect than Hayden's. And finally, there is the already cliched point of his weakness against the quality bowling be it spin or seam. Can he do a Sehwag against Mendis and Murali on Sri Lankan soil?? I doubt....

Posted by peter239 on (January 18, 2009, 5:59 GMT)

Hayden's outstanding record has always presented a dilemma for Ian Chappell since he bagged him mercilessly in his early years. It must have pained him over the years to watch him amass his scores. Michael Slater was lucky to be selected ahead of Slater in the first place and his record, whilst good, is nowhere near Hayden's. Slater's ability to dominate attacks has always been overstated, and his test strike rate is inferior to Justin Langer's, not to mention Hayden. Sehwag is much better than them both, and I believe he is grossly underrated. Sehwag is unique and better than 3 of the so-called fab four, and as good as Tendulkar.

Posted by __PK on (January 18, 2009, 5:54 GMT)

Interesting article, although it smacks a little of rewriting history to show a recent retiree unfavourably, now that he's unable to prove you wrong. One point missed is that Slater and Sehwag were both second innings players. Slater scored most of his hundreds then and Sehwag's second innings average for nearly three times as high as his first innings' until recently. So, it's Day 1 of a test match, the fast bowlers are fired up, the pitch is moving, you look to your openers to get off to a good start - who do you pick?

Posted by NeilCameron on (January 18, 2009, 5:28 GMT)

One thing I'm surprised people have forgotten to mention is that Matt Hayden was the last player to have played with Allan Border, and was thus the last player who played when Australia wasn't the world's top team.

Posted by mumbaiguy79 on (January 18, 2009, 5:24 GMT)

I will probably go with Slater as the best opening batsman I have seen for the sheer demolition job he used to do against best of bowlers. Hayden struggled against quality bowlers like he did against Zaheer and Ishant in India last year and was very pathetic in the first 4 tests of the 2005 Ashes

But how about Jayasuriya Mr. Chappell? Jayasuriya was as devstating a bastman as Haydos, Slats or Viru.

Posted by Supratik on (January 18, 2009, 5:11 GMT)

Excellently put in the right perspective, Chappelli. Ofcourse when greats retire, we usually hear the kind quotes that Ponting has given and has to be taken with a pinch of salt. There is another fact, wherein Slater will stay ahead of Hayden is that he overtook Hayden in the 90s to become a permanent fixture of Mark Taylor's Australian side. The 90s fast bowling attacks across the world had more quality than it has in the 21st century. On that count, Hayden will definitely go down as one of the all time greatest opening batsman against less than greatest bowling attacks, whom he intimadated and butchered - his 380 against Zim being a case in point.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (January 18, 2009, 4:56 GMT)

I feel that Hayden will be remembered more for his bulky frame,belligerant attitude and skill,in that order rather than in the order Ian Chappell mentions. I think Slater was better than Hayden just as Sehwag is given their success against better quality attacks. Hayden's success mostly came between 2001 and 2008 during which he scored nearly 8000 runs.A seven year cycle cannot be considered enough to assess the true greatness of any batsman.Besides, Australia were much the dominant cricketing power in the world over this period and a bit earlier, by a distant mile. Though much credit is given to Mathew Hayden for Australia's unmatched victorious run, I feel Magrath and Warne contributed much more.Hayden had little success against quality fast bowling as Chappel rightly points out both in the early part of his career and towards the end.That is possibly because of his technical inadequacies. It is just as well that he never had to face the Hadlees, and the Ambroses of another era.

Comments have now been closed for this article

Email Feedback Print
Ian ChappellClose
Ian Chappell Widely regarded as the best Australian captain of the last 50 years, Ian Chappell moulded a team in his image: tough, positive, and fearless. Even though Chappell sometimes risked defeat playing for a win, Australia did not lose a Test series under him between 1971 and 1975. He was an aggressive batsman himself, always ready to hook a bouncer and unafraid to use his feet against the spinners. In 1977 he played a lead role in the defection of a number of Australian players to Kerry Packer's World Series Cricket, which did not endear him to the administrators, who he regarded with contempt in any case. After retirement, he made an easy switch to television, where he has come to be known as a trenchant and fiercely independent voice.

    Still plenty of ifs for Butt

Rob Steen: Salman Butt insists players should refrain from "wrongdoing" but that shouldn't gain him back the trust of those he duped

Outside the Grace Gate

Shot Selection: You think MCC members have it easy when it comes to watching a Test at Lord's? Think again

Drowned out by the hype machine

Sharda Ugra: A lot has gone wrong with the Indian T20 league but as its seventh season begins, everything will be brushed everything aside like nothing is amiss

    Notes from a Dutch adventure

Netherlands coach Anton Roux looks back on their incredible wins in the World T20, late-night bonding, and pizza intake

A measure for batting and bowling effectiveness in T20

Kartikeya Date: Strike rates and economy rates do not quite tell the whole story. Here's a new standard

News | Features Last 7 days

UAE all set to host lavish welcoming party

The controversy surrounding the IPL has done little to deter fans in UAE from flocking the stadiums, as they gear up to watch the Indian stars in action for the first time since 2006

Attention on Yuvraj, Gambhir in IPL 2014

ESPNcricinfo picks five players for whom this IPL is of bigger significance

Stars greeted by Colombo revelry

Thousands flocked the streets and the airport to get a glimpse of their heroes in what was probably the grandest public occasion since the end of the war eased bomb-blast fears

India: cricket's Brazil

It's difficult to beat a huge talent base exposed to good facilities, and possessed of a long history of competing as a nation

Fifty for the pantheon

What if you had to narrow all of cricket greatness down to 50 names?

News | Features Last 7 days