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Posts Tagged ‘matthew hayden’

Unless you’ve been hiding away in a University tower for the last couple of months, it can hardly have escaped your notice that the Ashes starts tomorrow with the First Test in Cardiff.

England’s fans (and some sections of the media) seem to have suffered a bout of collective amnesia (or perhaps repression), with the last series (which, of course, Australia won 5-0) as infrequently referred to as an old copy of the Encyclopedia Britannica or an Atlas that still has Yugoslavia and the USSR on it, and with many non-experts apparently believing that the 2005 series was in fact the last time these two sides met.

Nevertheless, the events of four years ago are likely to foremost in the mind of Ricky Ponting, who will be desperate to restore his reputation and prove the doubters (such as a certain Mr. Thomson) wrong. If Mitchell Johnson can bowl at his best and the openers can cope with reverse swing more competently than Langer and Hayden managed four years ago, then the tourists can more than justify their status as favourites.

The home side, meanwhile, are – as ever – reliant on Pietersen and Flintoff. The emergence of Graeme Swann as a genuine spin threat who can hold a bat (and a catch) adds some balance to the lower order, but there is a lot of pressure on Broad, Anderson and the fifth bowler (a position that my be filled by a number of players throughout the series) to take wickets, something which Flintoff hasn’t done much of in recent years. The top order needs to display more solidity than it did over the winter, and while Ravi Bopara may have the element of surprise (although not to the extent that KP did four years ago), he will struggle to sustain his brilliant early-season form against a bowling attach which – for all its much-heralded weaknesses – will be far more motivated than the Windies were (and, of course, won’t suffer from as many misfields).

Although it pains me to admit it, it’s tough to see past an Aussie series win.

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Much of the talk (in England at least) ahead of Bangalore Royal Challengers against Chennai Super Kings was of Pietersen vs Flintoff, but it was Muralitharan and Hayden who made the biggest contributions as Chennai rolled over Pietersen’s side, claiming victory by 92 runs.

To be fair to Flintoff, he did hit 22 from 13 balls and took 3-11 from 4 overs (including the wicket of Pietersen) to leave Bangalore reeling, finally slumping to 87 all out in pursuit of Chennai’s 179.

65 of those 179 runs were scored by Matthew Hayden off just 35 balls as the Super Kings ran riot.

The second season of the IPL is starting to heat up now, and if the marquee names like Hayden, Muralitharan and Flintoff continue to deliver, then the competition is sure to monopolise cricket coverage for the next few weeks.

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The second season of the IPL (or the first season of the SAPL, if you prefer) gets underway this weekend, so here’s the lowdown on the teams taking part:

Bangalore Royal Challengers
Bangalore’s main pre-season activity was the purchase of Kevin Pietersen and KP will join a host of his fellow countrymen in Kallis, Steyn and Boucher. Last year the Royal Challengers finished seventh of eight teams, with only 4 wins, and Rahul Dravid didn’t look much of a Twenty20 batsman last time out, so it is to be hoped that the signing of Pietersen and the availability of Nathan Bracken following injury last year will improve things.

Zaheer Khan has departed to the Mumbai Indians in a swap deal for Robin Uthappa, but Steyn and Bracken – when available – should be enough to keep the bowling up to standard. Nevertheless, the Royal Challengers are unlikely to be amongst the favourites for the competition this year (although as Rajasthan showed last year, the odds may not be a fair indicator of each team’s relative chances).

Chennai Super Kings
Initial indications are that Chennai look strong again this year. Matthew Hayden’s retirement from international cricket means he is available for the whole competition, and new signing Andrew Flintoff, if fit, could potentially be the archetypal IPL all-rounder. In addition, MS Dhoni remains a potent threat.

Last season, the Super Kings lost out to Rajasthan in the final on the last ball, and the squad looks good enough to go one better this time around if fortune (and fitness) favours the Super Kings.

Delhi Daredevils
Dehli have been hit by the loss of Shoaib Malik and Mohammad Asif, but have added Australian master blaster David Warner and English duo Paul Collingwood and Owais Shah. Perhaps most important of their new additions is ‘Dirty’ Dirk Nannes, a Twenty20 specialist who has been part of successful Middlesex and Victoria teams in the shortest form of the game.

Dehli also have the likes of Sehwag, Gambhir, Vettori, de Villiers and McGrath at their disposal, so if the Daredevils can get the make-up of their side right, they have a strong chance of success. The fact that most of their overseas stars will be available throughout may lead to the odd selection problem, but they will be problems of the sort that other franchises would like to have.

Deccan Chargers
Last year’s wooden-spoon winners in dead last place, the Chargers suffered heavily in the batting department as Shahid Afridi, Scott Styris and even Herschelle Gibbs failed to live up to expectations. he has been recalled, and they have a preponderance of all-rounders having also added Dwayne Smith and Ryan Harris.

RP Singh is also under pressure after a disappointing season last year, as is Chaminda Vaas, and Fidel Edwards’s arrival should improve the effectiveness of the bowling unit. In all, there is some hope for a better performance this year, although it would be hard for the Chargers to do any worse.

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The two best Test cricket teams in the world move on to the second leg of their epic clash (the first was, of course, the recent series in Australia) as the Aussies embark on their first Gilchrist-less and Warne-less (and, for that matter, Lee-less, Hayden-less…) tour of South Africa. The series will be the first for either team to make use of the referral system, and it will be interesting to see how Smith and Ponting choose to utilise it.

For the tourists, much of the focus will be on the less familiar faces – the likes of old Bryce McGain and young Philip Hughes. Marcus North, recently signed by Hampshire, is also in line for a debut, probably in the First Test.

For South Africa, the faces will be more familiar given the team’s performance in Australia- even to the extent that a fit-again Ashwell Prince can’t break back into the side. The pace attack (especially Steyn), so potent in December, will be crucial once again.

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David Warner, fresh from his Twenty20 exploits, has been called into the One-Day side for Sunday’s match, following the failure of Michael Clarke to recover from injury.

Warner was briefly discarded by Australia’s selectors when it appeared that Clarke had recovered, but now the young NSWelshman may be given the opportunity to open the batting for the Aussies with Shaun Marsh, a position which is yet to be permanently filled since it was occupied by Matthew Hayden. If Warner makes a decent score, then his name could be added to the list of possible contenders to replace Hayden in the long term.

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Just in case anyone in Australia is feeling upset about Matthew Hayden‘s announcement that he’s going to retire, then here’s something to cheer you up: David Warner going ballistic in the Twenty20 the other day. Enjoy.

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Matthew Hayden has shown little indication that he is about to retire, despite his run of low scores recently, which has continued at the SCG.

Is it time for him to retire/get forced out, or does he deserve another chance?

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In Matthew Hayden’s last 16 test innings, he averages 23. Whereas other batsmen who have been under pressure to retire, such as Rahul Dravid, have had that pressure lifted by making decent scores, the pressure on Hayden shows little sign of easing off unless he makes a massive score in the second innings in Sydney.

Many, of course – especially outside Australia – won’t be too disappointed to see the back of Hayden (with his odd pronouncements, third-person nonsense and radical definitions of Third World countries) if he does retire. Despite, or perhaps because of this, there can be little doubt that he has contributed massively over the last few years to the extraordinary Australian dominance of Test cricket which is only now coming to an end. In Australia, though, some people do actually like him.

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Australia go into the Boxing Day test in the unprecedented position of being 1-0 down in a home series against South Africa. Ricky Ponting will undoubtedly have asked Santa to bring him some wickets, as the inexperienced Australian attack only managed 14 of them in the First Test, 11 of which were taken by Mitchell Johnson.

Matthew Hayden, too, will be anxiously rushing down the stairs on Christmas morning to see if Father Christmas has left him an extension to his Test career. Everyone’s favourite incomprehensible Aussie opener is in dire need of a big score to justify his continued inclusion in the side. The MCG and Boxing Day Tests in particular have been a happy hunting ground for Hayden, and he badly needs to make another big score there this time.

For South Africa, their Christmas list will have been headed ‘more of the same’. Their reputation as chokers will have many expecting a collapse at the MCG, but the incentive of becoming the number one side in the world with victory in the two remaining Tests should be sufficient motivation to keep them concentrated on the task in hand.

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Aaron Redmond thinks New Zealand can make it near 500 against Australia in the Second Test. I think that may be a little optimistic, but 262-6 with McCullum and Vettori both still there isn’t a bad platform (although not as good as it might have been – the Black Caps were 101-1 at lunch).

Redmond himself is the top scorer so far with 83, but it seems likely that at least one of Australia’s batting lineup will surpass that on such a notorious batsman-friendly pitch as Adelaide. Matthew Hayden, playing in his 100th Test, must be desperate to get out there and bat, especially given his recent form.

UPDATE: New Zealand actually managed something almost as unlikely as 500 – they collapsed from 262-6 overnight to 270 all out.

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Were Australia too defensive?

Is their bowling attack up to scratch?

Were India too defensive?

When will Sachin Tendulkar finally break Lara’s record?

Have India finally managed to shake their final day collapse problem?

Where was the needle between the likes of Hayden and Harbhajan?

Answers on a postcard, please…

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After India’s great start to the series with the wicket of Matthew Hayden in the third ball of the First Test, the first day belonged to Ricky Ponting, who made his 36th hundred (and his first in India – youtube here) before falling to Harbhajan (youtube here).

Australia have the upper hand. but only just.

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