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Last Updated: Monday, 12 May, 2003, 09:32 GMT 10:32 UK
Australia's inseparable pair
By Scott Heinrich

Statisticians may not have been surprised but the rest of world cricket will certainly be relieved to discover there is one Test record Australia are still some way from breaking.

Hayden and Langer in the dressing-room after their record innings
Hayden and Langer have shared a record five double-century partnerships

But Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer have their sights firmly set on becoming the world's greatest opening pair ever, and at their current rate it will not take long.

At the Antigua Recreation Ground, the two friends set a new record with a fifth double-century opening stand.

A shared 242 - their highest score together - broke the old mark held by Gordon Greenidge and Desmond Haynes.

But while the West Indies duo took 11 years to pass 200 together on four occasions, from 1979 to 1990, Langer and Hayden have done it in two seasons.

And with two Tests against Bangladesh next in the fixture the Australian pair now have their sights set firmly on the 16 century partnerships set by Greenidge and Haynes.

"We all know that the record for most 100 partnerships is held by Greenidge and Haynes and that is 16," said Hayden.

"That's something that we are heading towards. It would be nice to get past Greenidge and Haynes' record.

"We've worked hard at our batting and get to achieve these milestones as we go along."

For a pair that came together almost by accident, it is no mean achievement.

But since Langer and Hayden came together, Australia's opponents have stopped concentrating on a tough middle-order and been forced to wonder how they will take a first wicket.

Their chemistry was evident from the moment Langer replaced Michael Slater at the top of the order in the final Ashes Test at The Oval in 2001, the pair adding 158 for the first wicket.

CENTURY STANDS
Hayden and Langer are the best of friends
2001:
158 v Eng, The Oval,
2001/02:
224 v NZ, Brisbane
223 v NZ, Hobart
202 v SA, Melbourne
219 v SA, Sydney

102 v SA, Cape Town
2002/03:
101 v Eng, Adelaide
195 v Eng, Melbourne
242 v WI, Antigua

So what is the secret to their success?

Ask either and they will probably point to their great friendship as a good a reason as any to spend a lot of time together at the crease.

But, as well as their differing statures, the two are vastly different in their approach to batting, despite both being left-handed - a factor often seen as a negative for an opening pair.

Analysis of Hayden's scoring habits show him to be a heavy scorer on the leg-side.

But any tactic designed to negate him is often picked off by Langer, who just loves to cut.

At the beginning of that Ashes tour Langer cut a forlorn figure, out of form and dropped before the Tests to make way for Damien Martyn's return.

His move up the order solved the single deficiency in Australia's batting - an area that has been a problem since Geoff Marsh and Mark Taylor.

But it also freed up a spot in the middle-order, where Martyn has taken full advantage, scoring 1044 runs at 45.39.

A mercurial tour of India aside, Hayden rarely looked at home in the Australian order, with all of his appearances as opener, until partnered by Langer.

By the end of 2001 he held the Australian record for Test runs in a calendar year, with 1,388.

But it is unlikely to be Hayden's last chance to enter the record books. Greenidge and Haynes beware.





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