Former Australia opening batsman Matthew Hayden has revealed how an injury could have forced him to miss the game in which he went on to make 380, then the world record for the highest score Test cricket history.
Speaking to The Grade Cricketer podcast Hayden explained how a back injury nearly forced him to miss the game in Perth against Zimbabwe.
“It was probably fortunate that I was actually even playing,” he said. ” It was another example of how times have changed where w the trainers and the physio have full say on whether you’re going to participate in the game, whereas in our day… We had eight weeks where we’d had time off. It was a very early-season game in Perth and I’d been over training for a large part of that just doing my own personal training with one of the fitness trainers at Cricket Australia, Jock Campbell.
“We’d surf and, do weights, we were iron men basically. We were so fit but we couldn’t hit a cricket ball in anger. So when we got over there I was smashing mean cricket balls in the nets but I did my back in and I did it in properly as well, the day before the game and on the morning of the game I was in serious doubt.”
The former opening batsman recalled a typically blunt discussion he had with one of the Australian physios about his fitness before the game.
“The physio at the time, Errol Walcott, said to me ‘Mate, you can’t play’. And I said ‘I don’t think so Errol – my job is to tell you that I can play and your job is to keep me on the park’ and these weren’t words that were unknown. His job, and he knew it, was to keep me on the park no matter what,” said Hayden.
Hayden, who has scored the second-most runs in Test cricket by an opening batsman and was known for his aggressive style, said the injury forced him to take the attacking option as he hit the Zimbabwean attack for 380 from just 437 balls.
“It was really by necessity that I had to bat the way that I did because I actually couldn’t move,” he said. “So rather than running I thought that the best route was surely aerial and so pretty much from the get-go I was hitting through the line of the ball which probably turned out to be a hitting technique rather than a way to play and it worked.
“I can’t really remember in those 11 hours, apart from when I got out, mishitting a ball. Everything was just coming out of the middle. As they say in fly fishing, never change the fly. That worked, and that really continued to work as a hitting technique for me.”