Matthew Hayden possesses the most envied record in cricket (the No.1 individual Test score), yet his feet never leave the ground ó except when stepping out to the spinners. Well, thatís a reflection of his personality and a lesson for those aspiring to make a mark in the big league. The 32-year-old opener, who is heading for icon status, spoke to The Telegraph the other day.
The following are excerpts
Q Itís been over a month since you eclipsed Brian Lara. Has life changed'
A (Laughs) Iím not any different... Itís just that thereís so much more attention. I was quite touched by the congratulatory messages from across the world ó one, in fact, was from you...
How was it on the morning after authoring 380'
Because the (Perth) Test was still on, the thoughts revolved around the three days that remained... I realised we would probably have to spend quite some time on the field... Frankly, I could really savour the moment once the match was over.
Was there a period when you felt mentally tired'
Test cricket calls for a lot of mental energy but, having come off an off-season, I felt fresh... One is best equipped for a long innings when that freshness is there.
Today, what does 380 mean to you'
Batting for the length of time I did (ten-and-half hours) was a goal Iíd set myself... My game plan worked... If youíve already batted for a day, a big score is there for the asking. At the end of it, I had that pleasantly weary feeling.
Is there a fear your record could be bettered'
Itís going to happen... As Iíve said, youíve got to break your own record... Youíve got to back yourself... I wouldnít be doing my job if I didnít have a crack at 381 ó circumstances permitting. Even if somebody else goes one better, he will have to be a top order batsman. The probability suggests that.
So, is 381 a big driving force'
Time at the crease is what counts... Iím not going to worry about the batting process, Iím not going to worry about the result... After all, results take care of themselves.
Everybody has been wondering whether Saeed Anwarís 194 is your next target...
Again, as Iíve observed, itís next to impossible improving on that in conditions back home where itís tougher getting fours and sixes. I suppose the sub-continent is the best place for 195 and beyond... You canít imagine where an Adam Gilchrist will finish if he bats 50 overs in these (Indian) conditions...
Post 380, isnít there more pressure'
It should be more on somebody with five ducks in a row... I like batting and, given that Iím never short on enjoyment, Iím not under pressure. Iím happy with my level of concentration, the mental balance... I didnít set out to specifically get 380 but, having got there, I havenít invited extra pressure.
Are you indebted to anybody'
Iím certainly thankful for the opportunities with such an outstanding team... Iím thankful to Steve Waugh for re-igniting my career (in 1999-2000) after a three-year break... Thanks to him, my name kept getting discussed (by the selectors)... Indeed, Iím grateful to Steve for believing in me, for backing me through some difficult years.
From being somebody intent on a comeback to a permanent fixture... What lessons should one draw'
Not being too preoccupied with results... Not getting too preoccupied if things arenít working out... Surely, one must improve, but the enjoyment bit should never be lost... I gained by making a trip to MRF where, at that time, a spinnersí clinic was being conducted... Then, exposure to County cricket (Hants and Northants) proved beneficial... I never gave up, kept improving... The ultimate for me is playing a Test with a capacity crowd in attendance.
Initially, some felt you had limitations...
When I started (debut in 1993-1994), I wasnít very strong off the pads... But, I worked on that and, nowadays, I collect quite a few runs... Actually, my game has seen a natural progression and there was a phase when I over-analysed. Once I got over that, Iíve focussed on staying competitive.
Is yoga a regular feature'
It is... Call it yoga or meditation... Generally, I donít like to overload myself with information and prefer going about life in a steady manner... Also, itís nice to take a break... Iím not the sort to stay cooped in a hotel thinking only about cricket.
How would you describe yourself'
(Grins) I take one step at a time; focus ball by ball... Iím passionate about my faith, passionate about water sport... Do I envy anybody' No... Of course, Iím convinced cricket has some terrific custodians, has very fine leaders... Itís a healthy sport and, frankly, we should be celebrating its vitality.
The final question: Whatís the future youíre looking at'
I donít have pre-conceived ideas of what I want to achieve... I donít look too far...Iíll be happy to sign off with a nice score and, then, focus on both the domestic and international calendar once back in Australia.