Matthew Hayden can still hit most international bowlers out of the park, more than a year after he retired from international cricket, and for Chennai Super Kings fans, he is still “Matt the bat”.
But right now, Hayden is happy to sit at home and watch the Australian team, of which he was such a vital part till recently, smash their way through to the ICC World T20 semi-finals. “I knew we had a good and well-balanced team, and they have come together at the right time,” Hayden says. “Shane Watson and (David) Warner are such a dangerous combination at the top of the batting line-up. Mitch Johnson is firing, and (Brad) Haddin is a dangerous striker of the ball.”
Despite picking a few of his favorites from the rampaging Aussie line-up, Hayden believes that it’s not individual brilliance that makes the team unbeatable. “The Aussie cricketers are all strong, powerhouse athletes,” he says, “but their No. 1 weapon is that they play for each other.” Australia’s batsmen and bowlers have both clicked at the tournament, but Hayden says their ”amazing fielding skills” sets them apart.
Though there was controversy about the third season of the Indian Premier League (IPL) finishing with barely a week left before the ICC World T20, Hayden thinks the IPL has actually helped. “I personally feel that the T20 World Cup following the IPL has helped players get match-fit,” he says. “Look at the players from the IPL and they are all firing in the tournament.”
Controversies aside, Hayden says he’ll definitely come back next season to play in the IPL, but right now his eyes are on the Australian team, who play defending champions Pakistan in the ICC World T20 semi-final in the West Indies on 14 May—“At this stage anything can happen on any given day,” he says. “However, I’m very confident that we have the team to win the final.”