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Langer on Hayden

Justin Langer
By Justin Langer
Former Australia Test batsman


When Matthew Hayden rang me at 6.30 this morning I knew his few days of soul searching over whether he could continue his awesome, single-minded commitment to the Australian cricket team were over.

Justin Langer (left) and Matthew Hayden
The thing I miss most about playing Test cricket is walking out to bat with my best mate to open the innings for our country

Within a few seconds of his phone call the question had been answered with the simple words: "It's time to retire, little buddy."

Statistically, he is the greatest opening batsman Australia has produced and he has achieved everything possible in the game.

Individually and collectively, he has enjoyed a wonderful career as a batting run machine and an integral member of one of the most successful cricket teams in the history of the game.

Having opened the batting with my big mate for seven years, I have many wonderful memories tattooed on my brain.

In my last innings for Australia, there were seven runs needed at the Sydney Cricket Ground to ensure the Ashes would be won 5-0. As luck would have it, we were batting together at this point of finality when Matt walked down to me for a word of advice.

"What do you want me to do here, little fella?" he asked

"To tell you the truth, I am getting a bit emotional buddy so how about you hit a six so we can walk off together," I replied.

With that he simply smiled, winked and said: "Leave it to me."

With Sajid Mahmood delivering the second last ball of the 2007 series, Matty walked down the pitch and hit it about 20 rows back into the SCG crowd and next ball he guided a half volley through the covers to give me a fairytale finish to my career.

Throughout our partnership, I had 100% faith and trust in my partner and in that last innings together he again confirmed this faith with a selfless show of deliverance.

Such was his confidence and capacity as a player, he had the ability to intimidate his opponents with sheer presence at the crease and his belief in himself was simply unbreakable.

606: DEBATE
CROUCHING-TIGER
A couple of years ago while touring South Africa he scored a brilliant century in Durban. When we returned to the hotel he rushed upstairs, grabbed his surfboard and ran down to the waves.

About an hour later he knocked on the door of my hotel room, still dripping wet, and revealed that this had been one of the best days of his life.

"All we need now mate is a big feed and a good sleep and life just couldn't get any better than this," he said.

In a sense, this memory sums up my great friend and champion cricketer. While he was fiercely competitive and played with steely focus and commitment, he is also a free spirit who loves to surf and fish and cook.

He also loves his family and mates as much as anyone I know and his loyalty and commitment to these areas of his life is as dedicated as anything he has ever done on the cricket field.

The thing I miss most about playing Test cricket is walking out to bat with my best mate to open the innings for our country. Not many can boast that they go to work with their best mate every day of the week, but I did and for this I feel privileged.

Champions can be defined by their endurance or longevity in the game as well as their ability to face adversity and fight through the hard times.

Matthew Hayden has achieved all these things and he will be missed not only by the cricket-loving public, but more by his team-mates, because he was admired and respected by every one of them.

From Perth,

JL

PS. I could write a book of memories and tributes to Matthew Hayden, but of course there is nowhere near enough room on this page for that.

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see also
Opener Hayden confirms retirement
13 Jan 09 |  Australia
Ponting leads praise for 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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