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Ponting leads praise for Hayden

Matthew Hayden
Hayden scored 24,603 runs in 295 first-class matches

Australia captain Ricky Ponting hailed Matthew Hayden as his country's best ever opening batsman following his former team-mate's decision to retire.

Hayden, 37, scored 8,625 Test runs at an average of 50.73 and 6,133 one-day international runs at 43.80.

"I don't think there is any doubt about that [being Australia's best opener]," said Ponting. "We'll miss him greatly.

"Look back through history and see if there's been a better opening batsman in the game, let alone Australia."

Ponting added that the Queensland left-hander, who played 103 Test matches and 161 one-dayers, would also be greatly missed off the pitch.

"His opening partnership with Justin Langer in Test cricket will always be remembered as something very special," said Ponting.

When you thought he was down and out, he proved time and time again that he was a great player

Former Australia opener Matthew Slater

"[But] taking his 30 Test hundreds out of it and his average of 50 and all that, he's a massive loss for our dressing room, there's no doubt about that."

Hayden and Langer scored 5,654 runs together, second only to West Indian opening pair Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes (6,482).

And Langer, who retired in 2007, agreed with Ponting that Hayden rated as Australia's best ever opener.

"He's the best opener we've produced statistically and for his influence on the game," said Langer.

"He played 103 Test matches and averaged over 50 - that's an incredible career, just showing his longevity and endurance, and his champion status.

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"He did everything. He was not only the best Test opener, but also the batsman of the World Cup in 2007."

Spin legend Shane Warne said Australia would miss Hayden's "aura" and "the way he imposed himself on the competition, whether it was Twenty20s, one-dayers or Test cricket".

Warne added: "That will be missed by the Australian team, that's for sure. He's been a wonderful player for Australia for a long period of time."

Fast bowling legend Glenn McGrath also paid tribute to Hayden, who he called a "legend of the game".

"It's been an absolute honour and a privilege to play with him and even more so to call him a mate," said McGrath.

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News conference - Matthew Hayden

"He's got nothing left to prove, his career stands alone. Hopefully now we'll be able to spend a bit more time together off the field."

Former Australia batsman Mark Waugh said Hayden had chosen the right time to call it a day, as it made the opening position available to younger players ahead of next month's tour of South Africa.

"He's a great player and a loss to the game," said Waugh. "And while it's very disappointing we won't see him again in Australian colours, it's a good time to reflect on how good a player he was.

"I don't want to see him struggle the way he's been struggling the last six months."

Queensland Cricket chairman Damien Mullins described Hayden's as a 'wonderful career' and said he was "truly one of the legends of Queensland sport".

"Matthew Hayden has, through his outstanding performances, earned the admiration and respect of the Queensland cricket public," said Mullins.

"In Sheffield Shield cricket [Australian first-class cricket], only Sir Donald Bradman scored more runs in fewer matches than Hayden."

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see also
Opener Hayden confirms retirement
13 Jan 09 |  Australia
Langer on Hayden
13 Jan 09 |  Australia
Aussies overlook Hayden for ODIs
07 Jan 09 |  Cricket
Hayden ready to fight for place
24 Dec 08 |  Australia
Australia equal Test wins record
06 Jan 08 |  Cricket
Hayden smashes Test record
10 Oct 03 |  Cricket
Australia's inseparable pair
12 May 03 |  WI v Aus 2003
Hayden up with the finest
10 Nov 02 |  The Ashes


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