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Battle of the Bloggers: Hayden was overrated – Discuss

January 14th, 2009 by Sam Collins in Test cricket


King Cricket
Roastbif blogger, and head of the anti-Hayden court

Matthew Hayden was not a bad batsman. What we take issue with is the assertion that he’s one of the greats of the game.

Many people have paid tribute to Hayden in recent days and those who’ve branded him an all-time great have pointed to his average, but that statistic obscures as much as it reveals. The fact that his average is over 50 blinds people to the context.

Matthew Hayden played his career in an era where pitches were flat, Australia were dominant and fast bowlers non-existent. What Hayden did was devise a batting method whereby he could exploit these factors – and for that he deserves great credit.

But Hayden was a child of his times. As Wasim and Waqar, Curtly Ambrose, Courtney Walsh and Allan Donald departed the scene, so Hayden rose. On predictable pitches made to last five days and against fast-medium opening bowlers, Hayden stood a yard out of his crease and drove.

It was a brilliantly simple tactic in a world where pitches and the fixture list discouraged fast bowling. The lbw was virtually removed from the equation and back-foot play was at best an afterthought. In another era he’d have lost his teeth.

You can add to this the fact that Hayden’s wicket was never crucial. Ponting was next in and Gilchrist batted as low as seven. Even if Australia only got 200, they could still fancy their chances with McGrath and Warne in their attack.

Ruthless exploitation of weaknesses in opponents is unquestionably a strength. Hayden made sure that he profited from these weaknesses more than anyone. However, that also means that his record is, to a great degree, built on others’ failings.


Feisty convict, blogger and Haydos admirer

What would Christ do?

That is what Matthew Hayden, the very epitome of thuggery with a bat, often asked himself.

The answer was make 30 Test hundreds, average over 50, and annoy as many people in the cricket world as possible.

I have never met this Christ fellow, but maybe that’s what he told Hayden to do.

“I need you to sacrifice your good name for the good of mankind. Smite the South Africans, they brought us Apartheid. Reign down destruction on Zimbabwe, they kill farmers. Punish the English as they gave us Peter Andre, again, and heaps of other dodgy stuff. Give the West Indians some serious wrath for that ‘hot, hot, hot’ song. Admonish the Indians for Lalit Modi. Thou shalt follow my words to the letter, strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger.”

You don’t know that didn’t happen.

Look at the teams he went easy on – Sri Lanka, New Zealand, and Bangladesh – nice places, with people who have done little to annoy the rest of us.

Perhaps the reason pitches were flatter, and the bowlers were more benign when Hayden played was because Jesus made it so. He sent forth his Christian warrior on a mission, and that warrior obeyed with maximum brimstone and fire.

We will never know if Hayden would have prospered in any other generation, all we know is he did in this one, and Jesus seemed to have something to do with it.

Posted in Test cricket | 41 Comments »

41 Responses to “Battle of the Bloggers: Hayden was overrated – Discuss”

  1.   The Pav says:

    King Cricket

    A some flaws in your argument. Greatness can only be in comparison to your peers. You can only beat what is put in front of you. Hayden was the dominant opening batsmen of his ear therefore he is a “great”.

    1) If you happen upon a tactic that works & nobody else uses it then that makes you a great
    2) Why aren’t all other batsmen having similar numbers or was it only Hayden the beneficiary of depleted attacks & flat tracks
    3)What are his numbers relatively poor against the weaker nations
    4) When I see film of the Don batting the bowlers look distincly military medium.Does that mean he wasn’t a great?
    5) In the 70′s there weren’t that many fast bowlers so they stood out. Now every side has at least one who can go at 140kph plus. This causes a perceptual distortion.

    If Marshall, Garner Holding were playing today they would still be top bowlers but they wouldn’t be so far out in front

  2.   King Cricket says:

    Who says greatness can only be in comparison to your peers? Besides, on that basis Hayden is behind plenty of his contemporaries.

    Hussey, Ponting, Mohammad Yousuf, Jaques Kallis, Kumar Sangakkara, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Virender Sehwag all have higher career averages.

    Other batsmen are the beneficiaries of the conditions, it is just that Hayden’s success was built on that more than most, which adds a qualification to consideration of his quality.

    Decent batsman, but an average of 50 these days isn’t what it was in days of yore.

  3.   Tosser says:

    Will Matty Haydn be remembered in 100 years as a great. No. Warne, Lara and Tendulkar are a once in a life time phenomenon. They’re greats. Fact.

  4.   Pontius Pilate says:

    Matty Hayden -
    great man - probably
    great cricketer - probably not

    Jesus would never have handed out such a sustained and relentless punishment against the defenceless Zimbabweans.

    Watching him bat was like watching an Inuit clubbing seals: the numbers produced are impressive but would anyone with a soul enjoy it?

  5.   Pipe down Pontius Pilate says:

    I find your reference to Jesus a little offensive. I have a soul and enjoyed those big fore-arms muscling the ball to the boundary. Who wouldn’t. He’s all man with a sensitive culinary/family focus. In my eyes he is great and will always be great…

  6.   Pommy says:

    This blog is heaps good. If Haydos had retired when he should have done (spanking Mahmood to the picket fence and pummeling the pommies 5 zip) then he would not be described as a ‘great’. He was among a ‘great’ in Warney.

    Is Peter Andre not an escaped convict?

  7.   Pontius Pilate says:

    Re Peter Andre: He was born in Harrow, London, England, but was raised in Australia, and is of Greek Cypriot descent.

    His career is similar to that of MH in that he struggled early doors and then after one big hit (mysterious girl/380 vs Zim) he became an unfortunate regular in our popular consciousness.

  8.   Stevo says:

    Anyone who plays over 100 tests and averages over 50 is a test great, simple as that, any era , any time.

    That’s not to say that you NEED over 100 tests and an average over 50 to be a test great. . .

    Hayden dominated series time after time,something Sir Viv was never able to do more than a couple of times.

  9.   M-Shyne says:

    Matthew Hayden must go down as one of the greatest opening batsmen of all time, and one of the greatest players of his generation.
    The argument that he falls down compared to his peers is heavily flawed - he crushes the records of the likes of Michael Vaughan (Ave. 41) and VVS Laxman (Ave. 44), supposedly great batsmen.
    Hayden also occupies the role of opening batsman - a certain skill in itself. When compared to other leading openers of the era, he comes up trumps - Atapattu, Langer, Trescothick and Gibbs don’t even compare with Hayden’s record.
    Poeple also argue that his world record 380 vs Zimbabwe - an integral part of his legacy - is flawed due to the weakness of the opposition. Where would Murali be without the many 5-fers he has taken against minnows Bangladesh?
    Hayden simply must go down as a truly great opening batsmen, one of the best of all time. His record (8500+ runs @ 51, 30 hundreds) is spectaculer. A true great of the era - and this coming from a devoted England fan.

  10.   D Charlton says:

    But Hayden never had to face McGrath and Warne. If you look at, say, Trescothick’s career record but take out his poorer stats against Australia (Trescothick averages nearly 47), then you are getting a better reflection of Hayden’s standing ie not that far in front.

    Add in other factors as nicely highlighted by KC and I’d put Tresco on a level with Hayden…

  11.   Bobby Charlton says:

    Nice point Charlton

    Especially when you consider that Tresco left the Test arena just when it appeared he was entering his prime, and at an age after which Hayden scored most of his runs.
    Unfortunately, the nature of his illness makes it difficult to assess whether we should be making presumptions about what he could have achieved, or be grateful that we got to see as much of him as we did.

  12.   Gumbo says:

    That’s right Charlton and Charlton. Tresco was reaching his peak when he retired - he was England’s best batsman before KP turned up. His loss to England has never been resolved. If he still batting today he’d be averaging in the 50s and not dropping anything at slip.

  13.   M-Shyne says:

    What utter tripe. Tresco would not be averaging even near 50.
    If he was reaching those heights, that indeed would make him as great as Hayden - but he never threatened to whilst he was playing.
    Do you find it impossible to be impartial? Of course Hayden could be an arse, but do not let that cloud your argument. His record is superb, you simply cannot doubt that.
    I accept that he did not have to face Warne and MacGrath, but you could argue that for many greats throughout time - surely to be great you must have achieved great things, an essential part of which is being involved in a great team with great players whom you do not have to play against!!

  14.   Gumbo says:

    Between May 2004 and June 2006 Tresco played 25 Tests and 7 series, scoring 2349 runs at 52.20 with 9 hundreds and 18 50s. This is up to the final 4 tests he played, against pakistan in 2006, when his state of mind deteriorated dramatically.

    During that time, Tresco scored 431 runs at 43.10 in the 2005 ashes, a huge contribution to england winning the series. Hayden scored 318 runs at 35.33, with no fifties and that one, tortuous hundred at the oval that lost them the series.

    Pretty good stats i’d say.

  15.   D Charlton says:

    He did achieve great things but he had to play against few world-class attacks, unlike his contemporaries playing for other nations. So, you adjust the figures accordingly (as above) and lo, statistically, he’s not that far ahead of the crowd.

  16.   M-Shyne says:

    But you admit he is ahead of the crowd?

    Let me make it clear that I do not have anything against Tres. He was a good player, sorely missed by England. I admit I hadn’t done my homework on his late career, and he clearly has an excellent record during that period.

    I am just saying that Hayden has a better record than other openers of the era (which he does) and is therefore one of the standout performers of the last 10 years (which he is). Do you not agree that he is one of the best openers there has been?

    I think Trescothick may be considered by some to be better because of the impact of his departure on the England team. Hayden will not be missed as much because he has lost form and Australia have a ready-made replacement in Phil Jaques.

    Perhaps the attacks he faced weren’t the best, and I don’t subscribe to the “you can only beat what’s infront of you” school of thought - Botham was great because of who he beat not because of numbers.

    You seem to be disagreeing with me, yet not putting form any argument of your own. Do you think he was average? good? very good?

  17.   Gumbo says:

    He was very good, not a great. He suffered against the great bowlers while batsmen like Ponting, Lara, Tendulkar and Gilchrist could make great bowlers look average.

    No doubting he was one of the best openers of his era, but he doesn’t compare to the four i’ve mentioned, among others.

    You say he has a ready-made replacement. Well, great players don’t have ready-made replacements.

  18.   D Charlton says:

    He was good - yes. No one can deny that. He had great moments - yes. India 2001 when no other Aussies could get runs. He may be ahead of the crowd - but only just. That is the point.

    There are plenty players ahead of the crowd who are not great.

    I certainly do NOT agree that he is one of the best openers there has been. A good one? Undoubtedly.

    Hobbs-Sutcliffe, Greenidge-Haynes, Bill Lawry, Graham Gooch, Geoff Boycott, are all arguably better - and at worst - equal to (and there the ones that spring to mind).

    How many nasty West Indian attacks from the 1970s and 80s did he have to face?

  19.   Gumbo says:

    And we are putting forward arguments!

  20.   M-Shyne says:

    About time.

    I think our arguments are probably quite close to each other. Perhaps very good is an adequate compromise?

  21.   Gumbo says:

    Damn, that spoils the fun.

  22.   D Charlton says:

    I’ll agree with that. Good work team.

  23.   Gumbo says:

    what can we argue about now?

    Recall for Darren Pattinson?

  24.   M-Shyne says:

    Ha Ha,

    I think we can all agree there…. he didn’t get much of a chance and would probably have been a true great if he had.

    Okay I’m joking before we all get excited again.

  25.   King Cricket says:

    Darren Pattinson was a better Test batsman than Hayden was a Test bowler.


  26.   M-Shyne says:

    21 runs @ 10.50 vs. 0 wickets @ n/a??

    No contest - Pattinson wins hands down.

  27.   Bobby Charlton says:

    I’ve got a question for you goons

    Hayden or Sehwag?

    Discuss, and try not to combust while doing so.

    Me? I’m actually going to say Sehwag.

  28.   D Charlton says:

    Sehwag. Because his strokes look more exciting when he plays them. I’d prefer to watch Sehwag. I think a better question would be Hayden or Graeme Smith - both ugly, left-handed, aggressive openers.

    Pattinson has been playing in Victoria’s 2nd XI.

  29.   M-Shyne says:

    I couldn’t agree more.

    As a viewer, I enjoy watching Sehwag because you feel every ball could go for six, or equally he could be walking back to the pavilion. That excitement can’t be beaten.

    Hayden is more conventional, and watching him slam the first ball of a Test match back past the bowler has a certain beauty.

    Smith is probably the pick of the three as a player - certainly the most accomplished. Watching Smith bat, you always feel he is in for the big innings.

  30.   JP says:

    Hayden is just a good batsman.
    here are his stats


    home 1996-2009
    Tests Innings NO Runs HS Avg
    56 98 8 5210 380 57.88 62.88 21 16 5
    away 1994-2008
    44 82 6 3169 203 41.69 56.87 8 12 9
    neutral 2002-2002
    3 4 0 246 119 61.50 492 50.00 1 1 0

    Notice the HUGE difference in average and centuries in the home and away tests?
    Difference of 16 in avg 21 out of 30 centuries at home and he is a Great batsman? Those stats are more like that of Mahela, another home track ‘champ’ and away ‘chimp’.
    Here stats do not lie.
    Hayden is merely a good batsman, not even very good and you can forget about great.

  31.   JP says:

    And all this talk of his ‘Christian’ values makes me puke.

    Difficult to think about ‘the meek shall inherit the earth’ and this loud and foul mouthed bully as belonging together. Give me a break! Some people might say that he seems to have more in common with the KKK burning cross than with the regular cross

  32.   Ed says:

    Statistics put Hayden on a par with Steve Waugh.

    Give me a break.

  33.   M-Shyne says:

    I don’t really want to get into it again, but if we are comparing records, I feel obliged to bring up Trescothick again.

    Home ave - 51.05

    Away ave - 36.20

    The comparison with Waugh is interesting. Waugh will no doubt go down as a great, whereas Hayden probably won’t.

    More to do with what else he contributed to the team - there cannot be many long-term skippers who have such a record.

    Captaincy has arguably ruined the records of a number of top players, most recently Vaughan (36.02 as captain, 50.98 when not).

    Having had the weekend to mull it over, I probably agree that Hayden isn’t a great. One of the best opening batsmen of his generation, but not a great of the game. JP is talking garbage - anyone averaging over 50 is very good.

  34.   Billy no mates says:

    Considering Tresco was mentally fragile throughout his career (no offence) and he has the impressive stats above, does that not make him a great?

    Who gets picked for the Ugliest/Painful to watch XI (not aesthetically ugly, just batting/bowling wise):

    1. Matt Haydn
    2. Graham Smith
    3. Mike Hussey
    11. Alan Mulally

  35.   D Charlton says:

    I know people love him - and i love him more than my mother - by Chanderpaul is no err Lara to the eye.

    I reckon Dhoni should keep wicket - he’s a quality cricket but does look a shambles.

    Paul Harris could be the spin option… It’s barely an action it’s so ugly.

  36.   M-Shyne says:

    Ian Bell makes me sick. Especially when he blocks out the first over of a 20/20 game.

    And Mark Richardson was terrible for cricket.

  37.   Brian Shousey says:

    Let’s just compare Hayden to Langer in all the tests in which they played together as opening partners, only not including tests against Bangladesh or Zimbabwe.

    Mat Runs HS Bat Av 100s
    JL Langer 68 5479 250 49.36 17
    ML Hayden 68 5942 203 52.58 20

    Not really such a big difference is there? Is that the difference between great and just good??

  38.   JP says:

    M-Shyne, decent of you to acknowledge that the foul, loud mouth is not a great.
    But Hayden is one of the most selfish cricketers around, Saurav Ganguly has been vilified for much lesser acts.
    Compare the two retirements.
    You speak of an average of 50. How did Hayden manage to some hoeep it there?
    He used up test after test banking on his past home exploits and the fact that the cowardly selectors did not have the gumption to drop him. Check his average for the last 10 odd tests. He then chose to play on for the last dead test in the hope of scoring big in an incosequential match with no pressure thereby robbing Aus of the opportunity to play either Rogers or the youngster Phil Hughes. And what does he do after this? Checks his stats, his records speaks for itself, hometown champ, away chimp and what chance of maintaining that average above 50 with 3 tests in SA against a very good pace attack with the crowd baying for him? Zero! And takes the most selfish decision to retire after using up a test which could ave been used to give some deserving fellow a run under less pressure.
    I shudder to think how much he would have been blasted for such selfishness if it was Ganguly who did this rather than Hayden.
    When Ganguly retired, it was plain that he could easily have played on for another year.
    He had scored a ton in his last series and looked good.

    Most accept that bowlers win you tests and batsman save them for the most part.
    You can forgive a bowler lingering longer than he should, the batsman can ensure they bat long and dont lose; but if a batsman lingers, you lose as a team more often.

    think about it.

  39.   D Charlton says:

    Brian - top stats - spot on.

  40.   M-Shyne says:

    Oh JP. JP, JP, JP. You haven’t listened to my argument have you?

    I have never once complimented Hayden as a man. He is clearly a complete idiot, and was no doubt looking for one last big score to sign off with… blah blah blah.

    Still, a bloody good batsman.

    Think about that. Nice essay though.

  41.   stoph verismo says:

    Pontius Pilate said,
    in January 15th, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Matty Hayden -
    great man - probably
    great cricketer - probably not

    Jesus would never have handed out such a sustained and relentless punishment against the defenceless Zimbabweans.

    Watching him bat was like watching an Inuit clubbing seals: the numbers produced are impressive but would anyone with a soul enjoy it?

    would anyone with a soul take this seriously?
    i don’t have a soul (i think the tooth fairy took that too!) but found it beyond ludicrous.

    Hayden punished Zimbabwe because he is a professional sportsman, not because he was (at that moment)running a charity. that was one statistic, unlike Murali who has built career statistics on lesser nations… otherwise, the rest of Haydens stats speak for themselves.
    his Iiggest career mistake was hanging on after the indian tour.

    stoph verismo

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