Matthew Hayden is clinging to his international career after being told he is not in Australia's limited-overs plans. Hayden, who had an awful Test summer of 149 runs at 16.55, was omitted as the selectors looked to players who could be part of the World Twenty20 in England in June and the 2011 World Cup.
Despite his poor returns since overcoming a long-term heel injury, Hayden has won team support to push on to the Ashes. However, Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, has softened his stance by refusing to say Hayden is a certainty for the series in South Africa starting next month.
"We are moving on," Hilditch said of the decision in Sydney. "There is no doubt our advance plans were for Matthew to go through to the Ashes. That would be our ideal outcome. We've got to sit down as a panel to make a decision whether it's still the way to go."
Hayden said he would take his time while deciding what to do next. "My immediate future is to go back home to my family and the people that love me the most and just enjoy this time, to take guard again," Hayden told the Australian. "It's been a pretty long last four months. I am going to take the time to get my mind around what the future does hold."
However, Hayden said he would play out the summer and would continue with Queensland. "When you are short of runs you have to start asking questions and they [the selectors] do that better than anyone," he said. "For my mind it's as simple as being committed to playing out the summer and then taking the time to either get back on the horse or make a decision not to. It's as clear cut as that."
Hilditch said Hayden was "not particularly happy" when told of his sacking. "I have no idea what he's going to do," Hilditch said. "My feeling is he will go and play for Queensland and make sure he gets on the South African tour."
Hayden scored 31 and 39 in the third Test victory and will have to wait until early February to learn whether he remains part of the five-day squad. Twenty20 engagements fill most of the domestic calendar this month but there is a round of Sheffield Shield games before the squad will be finalised.
Hilditch said dropping Hayden from the one-day squad was not linked to his performances over the past six months. "This would have been the decision whatever Matthew was doing in Test cricket," Hilditch said. "It's unfortunate for Matthew and it wasn't an easy thing to tell him."
The last of Hayden's 161 one-day matches came in the finals loss to India in the CB Series last March. He scored 6133 runs, with his best being the Australian-record 181 against New Zealand in 2007, and was a star of the following World Cup success, thrashing 659 runs at 73.22. He was also part of the 2003 victory in South Africa.
Australia will play Twenty20 games against South Africa in Melbourne on Sunday and Brisbane on Tuesday before the five-match one-day international series begins at the MCG on Friday. David Warner, the New South Wales batsman, has been called in to the squad while Ryan Harris, the Queensland allrounder, is another new face.
Michael Clarke will miss the shorter games due to ligament damage to his right thumb, which he sustained during the first Test in Perth, but is hopeful of being fit for the ODI campaign. Mitchell Johnson has been rested until the third CB Series fixture due to his heavy workload since the India tour.
Twenty20 squad Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, Nathan Bracken, Brad Haddin (wk), Shaun Marsh, Shaun Tait, David Warner, Ryan Harris, Cameron White, Nathan Hauritz.
One-day squad Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin (wk), James Hopes, Nathan Bracken, Shaun Marsh, Michael Hussey, David Hussey, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Cameron White, Shaun Tait, Peter Siddle.
Australia vs South Africa
South Africa tour of Australia
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo