June 28, 2007
Matthew Hayden was in such dominating form at the World Cup that he believes he is at the top of his game at the age of 35 © Getty Images
Matthew Hayden has no plans to follow his long-time opening partner Justin Langer into retirement, and says he is ready to help lead Australia through their gruelling 2008. Hayden believes he is in career-best form, which is a reasonable claim given that he topped the World Cup run tally with 659 - 111 more than the second-placed Mahela Jayawardene.
He will be 36 when Australia play their next Test against Sri Lanka in November, making him the oldest of the certain starters. That will be the beginning of an almost non-stop 18 months in which Australia will play 27 Tests, including trips to Pakistan, West Indies, India and South Africa, and a host of one-day series.
"I will give myself the best chance to do it," Hayden told the Herald Sun. "It's as big a year as anyone has ever had in cricket. I am in such a privileged position at the moment. I not only feel at the top of my game but I also love it and I am in a great position to be a role model into the future."
Hayden is in the middle of a rare four months without cricket before the Twenty20 World Championship in South Africa. That is followed by Australia's home summer, during which he will have a new opening partner in the Tests. Phil Jaques and Chris Rogers are at the head of the queue but Shane Watson has also expressed his desire to fill the role.
Whoever gets the job will have the perfect chance to learn from Hayden. "I want to instil into the next generation of players how much an older player loves the game," he said. "I want to instil a culture that will hopefully benefit and leave a legacy for the players."