The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Back to basics for Hayden
- I lost confidence during fourth Ashes Test, says Aussie opener

Sydney: Matthew Hayden, who authored a fine 111 on the opening day of the first-ever officially sanctioned Super Test, has admitted he “lost confidence” during the fourth match of the recent Ashes series.

“My batting strategy didn’t work in the first three Tests and, in the fourth (Trent Bridge), I lost confidence... Fortunately, I regained it at The Oval,” he remarked during an interaction with the Media after posting a hundred in each of his last two completed Test innings.

Hayden had 138 in the first innings at The Oval, an effort which lifted his Ashes total to 318 and improved his average to 35-plus. Otherwise...

Later, speaking to The Telegraph, Hayden explained that it was a “back to the basics” move which helped him get back the confidence which, often, has been of the supreme kind. “I kept watching the ball closely... It was simple and it worked.”

Class, obviously, tells and Hayden showed yet again why he is among the finest of his generation. The World XI remains convinced it had him leg-before rather early, but the opener played according to the situation (after Ricky Ponting won the toss) and couldn’t be denied his 22nd Test hundred.

“Over the past four months or so, we’ve faced very good bowlers with strong skills... Countering them hasn’t been easy and it has been a most difficult period not just for me, but the other Australian batsmen as well... As at The Oval, I’m happy I stayed at the wicket and got some runs,” he said.

In fact, with Steve Harmison and Andrew Flintoff opening the World XI attack, it was actually a continuation of the Ashes. And, the first hour or so is particularly dicey at the SCG.

Largely owing to a loss of form till The Oval hundred, Hayden has tempered his approach. However, he insisted he would go for the maximum if a “ball was off,” adding: “You can bat only as well as the bowlers allow...”

For Hayden, the worst (he even got dropped for the three Johnnie Walker Super Series-launching ODIs in Melbourne) is over, but he made the point that wearing the Baggy Green evokes a “special sensation.”

Asked to comment about the experimental referrals to the third umpire (Darryl Hair), Hayden responded: “I think the time taken is an issue as the public wants the pace of cricket to be brisk... But, then, one can’t pass judgement so quickly.”

That was Hayden’s sign off.

Meanwhile, World XI captain Graeme Smith felt his team had a “reasonable day.” In his opinion, “20-30 fewer runs” ought to have been conceded ' not as many as 331 (for six).

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