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  Sunday, 10 November, 2002, 12:17 GMT
Hayden up with the finest
Matthew Hayden sweeps
Hayden's power affords extra margin for error

Of all of the success stories in Australia's all-conquering line-up, Matthew Hayden's has to be one of the more remarkable.

As the hosts set up an emphatic 384-run win over England, the burly left-hander became just the seventh player ever to score a century in each innings of an Ashes Test.

Only 12 Australians before him have reached three figures twice in any Test - even the great Don Bradman only managed it on one occasion.

Since returning to Test cricket three years ago, Hayden has smashed 2,639 runs from 27 Tests at an average of 62.83.


I've taken on a new level of mental preparation
Matthew Hayden
South Africa, Pakistan and now England have been put to the sword this calendar year to the tune of 981 runs at 75.46.

It was a talent that he had only hinted at during his first incarnation as a Test batsman.

After failing on his Test debut he had to wait three years before playing six further Tests, yielding a century against the West Indies in Adelaide but precious little else.

Of the young pretenders to Mark Taylor's opening berth there was little to chose between Hayden, Greg Blewett and Matthew Elliott.

When Blewett blew his chance, nine matches into Australia's record-breaking Test streak, Hayden's turn came around again against New Zealand in Hamilton.

There was no miracle about-turn - it took until Australia's tour of India before he managed a second trip into three figures.

Since then he has been unstoppable.

Confidence

The arrival of Justin Langer as his opening partner has formed an impregnable combination, with four double-century stands in their first 10 innings together.

Hayden's seven centuries from his last 10 Tests is a feat matched among Australians only by Bradman, whose best run was nine tons in 12 matches.

Langer and Hayden
Langer and Hayden have formed an awesome partnership
Hayden puts his rebirth as a Test batsman down to a different approach.

"If you haven't got a mental game plan in place, you've got nothing no matter how skilled or how well prepared you are," he said amidst the celebrations in Brisbane.

"The last 12 months of my career I've taken on a new level of mental preparation."

Confidence, though, clearly plays a part in the new Hayden.

The Queenslander is broad-shouldered enough to power himself out of difficulties, the maxim "if you flash, flash hard" taking on a brutal new aspect.

During 2001, when his 1391 Test runs set a new Australian record, the bulk of his success came against spin.

He was unimpressive during the Ashes tour to England, where he appeared to struggle against the moving ball.

  Hallowed company
Two 100s in the same Ashes Test match
W Bardsley, The Oval 1909
H Sutcliffe, Melbourne 1924/25
W Hammond, Adelaide, 1928/29
A Morris, Adelaide 1946/7
D Compton, Adelaide, 1946/47
S Waugh, Old Trafford 1997
M Hayden, Brisbane 2002/03
But 591 runs came in six innings in India, and he took a heavy toll from the spinners of New Zealand and South Africa at home.

And as his confidence grew, so did his willingness to take on anything an opposing attack had to offer.

"The way he scores so quickly for an opener is pretty unusual and he's not afraid to go after any bowler," said skipper Steve Waugh.

"The key to playing at this level is to not waste good form and he's not doing that at the moment."

That good form, though, has lasted for almost two years.

At some point it will stop being considered a purple patch and become a batsman of the highest order.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Australia's Matthew Hayden
"I've always dreamt of playing Test matches at home"
All the reports from the Test match

Day four

Day three

Day two

Day one

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See also:

02 Jan 02 | Australia v South Africa
17 Dec 01 | Australia v South Africa
20 Mar 01 | India v Australia
Links to more The Ashes stories are at the foot of the page.


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