One of the most destructive batsmen to watch, Matthew Hayden was one half of Australia’s formidable opening pair in the 2000s. Alongside Justin Langer and Ricky Ponting, he laid the foundation for Australia’s numerous wins as they went on to become an unrivalled outfit across formats for almost a decade.
After having a breakout series against India in 2000/01, where he aggregated 549 runs at 109.80, there was no looking back for Hayden as he kept on demolishing bowling attacks for fun. One of his many glorious moments came against Zimbabwe in Brisbane in 2003/04, as the Queensland batsman made the hapless attack toil for two days to become the fifth man to score a Test match triple ton for Australia. He carried on further, first going past Don Bradman and Mark Taylor to register Australia’s highest individual score, before attaining supremacy by surpassing Brian Lara’s 375 scored almost a decade ago in Antigua.
An innings boasting a strike-rate of 86.95, featuring 38 hits to the fence and 11 over it, suggest that there was no respite for the fielding side. Gripper, who alongside rest of his teammates faced the wrath, picks up the tale.
“Amazingly, we won the toss and decided to field! I’m not sure I’ve forgiven Heath Streak, to be honest. Obviously with the benefit of hindsight, it was a crazy idea, but at the time there was some logic. We had done a bit of research, and it was a slower wicket than you normally get at Perth. We thought that would suit our bowlers…
“Our main goal was to go five days, but after winning the toss we found ourselves in the dirt for over a day and a half. Hayden just went on and on to get 380. We chased a lot of leather and then Adam Gilchrist came in and we had to suffer through an onslaught from him, as well.
“It was wrongly reported afterwards that during Hayden’s knock I dropped him. That wasn’t true, it was actually Mark Vermeulen. I can’t remember the reporter’s name but it was mentioned to me after the game and I had to make sure I corrected it!
“We didn’t really say anything to Hayden during his innings. Once he got to 60 or 70 it looked pretty ominous. It was like he was batting with a barn door. I don’t think having a word was really going to have much of an affect.
“I did eventually get Hayden out! The leg-side was the biggest part of the field so I bowled on that side. He went for a sweep – which he hadn’t done a lot of – and he top-edged it to Stuart Carlisle at deep backward-square. He took a great catch actually because there were a whole load of seagulls near him and as the ball travelled to him they were trying to take off. We were glad he held on.”
First published in December 2016