Finisher Haddin nears finish line
Should he be one of 11 Australian cricketers lifting the World Cup aloft at the MCG on March 29, Brad Haddin may well decide to call time on a limited overs career dating back as far as the summer of 2000-01
Even if he can't put his finger on a precise date, Brad Haddin knows he is not far from the end of his ODI career. Should he be one of 11 Australian cricketers lifting the World Cup aloft at the MCG on March 29, Haddin may well decide that is the moment to call time on a limited-overs career dating back as far as the summer of 2000-01.
"I haven't really thought about when I'm going to pull the pin but it obviously looks like I haven't got many one-day games in front of me," Haddin said in Brisbane. "From my point of view I'm just enjoying this whole campaign of a World Cup. It would be good to be around in a month's time at the MCG for the finale. It would be a great way to sign off from one-day cricket but I haven't really thought about when I'm going to pull the pin. It's getting close, definitely from one-dayers."
Haddin's uncertainty about the date of his ODI retirement contrasts with the total clarity he presently has about his role in the team at this tournament. Vice-captain, wicketkeeper and sergeant-major in the field, Haddin has also been commissioned alongside James Faulkner as the man to finish off the innings at No. 7 in the batting order.
He is revelling in the job, as evidenced by a freewheeling 31 against England on Friday, and spoke of it as a matter of either regaining momentum after earlier wickets or maintaining it in the wake of strong top order innings. "I think with that [role] is the momentum of the game," Haddin said. "Whether you've got to change momentum or whether you've got to concentrate on just getting off strike to get Maxi, Marshy or Faulkner back on strike. Whether you need to take a risk early in your innings to let the set batter just bat through the innings.
"You've just got to sum it up. My role is really to change the momentum of the game, to just make sure it's going in our favour as much as it possibly can. I enjoy that role, especially in a tournament where you've got time to practice that role, you practise techniques that are a little bit different to what you would do batting at the top of the order or getting ready for a Test match. I've enjoyed getting ready, knowing that's my role in this tournament."
This is Haddin's third Cup campaign, and his time around the Australian side dates back far enough to have included their one and only loss to Bangladesh - at Cardiff in 2005. That match was remembered as much for the dropping of Andrew Symonds for turning up in an unfit state to play as it was for Australia's defeat. Haddin recalled it with a rueful smile before summing up the challenged posed by a team Australia have not faced in a 50-over contest since April 2011 in Michael Clarke's first series as fully-fledged captain.
"Was that Simmo's game? Yeah, that was a good one. I don't remember much. Neither does Roy," Haddin quipped of a time when as reserve wicketkeeper he was more than partial to the odd late night. "Obviously they're a very dangerous team. They've got some match-winners. They've got the number one allrounder in the world who I dare say would be pretty keen to make a name for himself here.
"They've got some very dangerous players and if they play with no fear they can be a very dangerous team. And on their day they can match it with anyone. So we've got to make sure we tighten up a few things that came out of the last game and make sure we're ready to play. And especially with the weather around it's even more important to make sure were ready to go, whatever the length of the game."
The weather currently hovering around Brisbane makes it difficult for anyone to predict the length or even the occurrence of a game on Saturday. The Gabba's centre square and practice pitches remained fully covered for the length of Australia's low key morning session at the ground, Haddin resorting to the indoor nets to hit a few balls before stating that four quick bowlers was an option given the likelihood of a greenish strip being unveiled.
"Probably if there wasn't any weather around, that possibility would have been slim but now with the weather around there is definitely a possibility that we may go in with four," he said. "It's actually hard to give you a team or what we're really thinking because we're so unsure of what's going to happen with the weather and what's going to happen when they pull the covers up so we'll just be guided on that. It is something that we will consider."
All that is certain about Saturday is that Clarke will play, having ticked all the boxes required of him by the team's medical and fitness staff to ensure his readiness after hamstring surgery. There remains an element of risk in Clarke's return six weeks since the procedure, but Haddin spoke for the team when he said the captain's return would provide a welcome change to weeks of stories about his recuperation against a strict deadline.
"It's great to have our captain back," Haddin said. "This was the plan all along for Michael to be right for this game. I don't know what you guys are going to do over the next couple of days because you might have to think of some questions about the World Cup rather than Michael's hamstring. But he's on track to play so that all I'm going to talk about it. The plan hasn't changed for us. You guys are going to have to think of something else to write about..."
An impending retirement, perhaps.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig