Rahul Dravid and Sanjay Manjrekar host another episode of Modern Masters, the exclusive digital video series by ESPNcricinfo, profiling 14 cricketing greats who have graced the modern game and played alongside Dravid. The latest episode features Australian batsman, Matthew Hayden.

Each Modern Masters episode examines the technique, temperament, adaptability and impact of the players with the aim of discovering what made them unique.

The first four Hayden episodes, on his adaptability, impact, temperament and technique, are available as of October 06, 2014, on ESPNcricinfo. Among the highlights from Dravid’s comments from all four episodes on Matthew Hayden, are:

On what he remembers of Hayden:

“An incredibly imposing batsman. He had this sort of wide stance like a lot of modern batsmen have… A bat that came very very high back-lift and a Bat that came almost sometimes in an arc from around second slip and came down in one big flow or one big swoop.”

“[His] ability to just pick up good length balls from off stump and deposit them over mid-on and mid-wicket was incredible.”

“A phenomenal player. A dominating batsmen for Australia at the start. Someone who [was] equally adept in bouncy conditions of Australia and in the subcontinent. His play against spin and the technique that he had against spin and ability to sweep”

“To sweep balls that others probably wouldn’t have had a chance to get to, made him a formidable opponent in any condition.”

On his attack against spinners:

“His play against spin in India was a definite plan… not only did he master the sweep and play it in one place he had this ability to sweep different parts of the ground. So he swept finer sometimes, squarer, if you moved the field around a little bit he was able to hit you slightly in front of square sometimes. A player who used that sweep differently and not as a desperate measure as we sometimes see foreign batsmen do but as a calculated plan to upset the bowlers.”

“I know it did upset a lot of our spinners. Hayden’s ability to get his bat so far in front that it was hard to get him out lbw when he missed and to bring the power of that bat to hit boundaries for sweeps which is not easy to do”

On why he walks down the pitch and advances to the bowler:

“I think one thing about Hayden was that initially if there was a slight weakness it was when the ball was pitched up to him and you felt you could nick him off at times or you could get him out lbw at times. To counter that he started actually walking down the wicket because if you drop short to him which is a natural tendency of most bowlers… he had a ferocious pull, not so much of a cutter but played the pull very effectively”

“Imposed his presence onto the bowler as well.”

On his physique:

“Created a great image, big man walking up towards you can be intimidating. Interesting thing about him was there aren’t too many weaknesses. [He] wasn’t a batsmen with too many weaknesses.”

On his other aspects of temperament apart from aggression:

“Sort of had a difficult start to international cricket. He struggled in his first few test matches, he was dropped from the Australian side. Think it showed great mental character to bounce back, and come back and have the career that he did. Force his way back into a strong Australian team… recognised that playing spin was something that he needed to do, he needed to learn… came to MRF before he played for Australia, spent time here and learnt how to play spin bowling. Something that shows you not only an inquiring mind but also desire and a hunger which you could sense in a player like him. Again someone who had the ability to make big scores as we saw with that 380 which he held the world record for some time. Someone who clearly enjoyed batting”

On turning pitches:

“He played very well in India. Probably one of the best Australian players, especially against India during that period because he had a well organised game against spin. He clearly knew what he was going to do and he was skilful at it”

“[His] was a wicket you always wanted. No doubt you knew you wanted to get Hayden early. Because if you didn’t get him out he was the kind of guy who would play a big innings”

“One of the ways we used to try and keep him quiet was actually to play on his ego by putting fielders back on the line, having in-out fields very early in the innings. Frustrating him by forcing him to take singles. It didn’t always work but that was an option definitely for guys like that who want to dominate, want to hit the ball in the air, want to score quickly all the time, want to score in boundaries that it a definite tactic… frustrating them into [making] mistakes.”

On Hayden in different conditions:

“In home and in Asia specially, in these kind of conditions he had a brilliant technique that worked really well for him. You would expect him to score runs in Australia but he was a big presence especially on tours in the subcontinent during that period, Australia won away series in India, in Sri Lanka in Pakistan during that period.”

On the impact that he had:

“Around 2001 and 2003 he was an incredibly dominating batsmen along with Ricky Ponting. Australia had incredible success as well through that period”

“Whenever we played him, he seemed to score a century or always scored runs against us… scored a lot of runs in boundaries”

“More hundreds than actually fifties and that’s phenomenal”

On his record 380:

“Consistency as well. To score 4 centuries in a row, twice, it’s incredible…very productive period, probably his best years.”


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