On November 10, 2002, Matthew Hayden scored his second century of the match at his home ground at Brisbane. Jaideep Vaidya writes about the events of the day and the records broken by the powerful Australian opener.
England were already deflated after Australia made the most of Nasser Hussain‘s diabolical gamble of putting the hosts in to bat on a perfect batting pitch at the Gabba, believing there was a bit in the green-tinged surface for the fast bowlers. Riding on Matthew Hayden‘s magnificent 197 and Ricky Ponting‘s classy 128, Australia put on 492 all-out on the board in their first innings to take control of the first Ashes Test of the summer Down Under. In reply, four England batsmen managed to notch half-centuries, although no one could convert it into a big one, as the tourists posted a respectable, yet insufficient 325 by tea on Day Three, giving the Australians a sizeable lead of 167.
Australia started their second innings in a blistering manner and although they lost the wickets of Justin Langer and Ponting in the final session of the third day to Andy Caddick, Damien Martyn joined a red-hot Hayden in the middle as the duo took the attack to the Englishmen. They brought up their team’s hundred in just 66 balls and by the time stumps was called, Australia’s lead had boosted to 278 with eight wickets in hand.
The following morning, Hayden and Martyn carried on, with the former accelerating ahead. His fifty was brought up off 104 balls, before the duo brought up their century stand in 156 balls in less than two hours of playing time. Martyn’s fifty was soon to follow off 90 balls, before Hayden notched his second hundred of the match off just 149 balls. He would fall soon after to Ashley Giles for 103, an innings including 13 fours and a six, making him the 12th Australian to post a century in each innings, and only the fourth from his country to achieve the feat in an Ashes Test.
Chronological list of batsmen who have scored two centuries in an Ashes Test:
Since returning to Test cricket in March 2000, Hayden had smashed 2,639 runs in 27 Tests at an average of 62.83, including 10 hundreds and as many fifties. Following his heroics (549 runs in three Tests) in an otherwise horrid tour of India in 2001, Hayden had pummelled the bowling attacks of South Africa, Pakistan and now England in 2002 to take his tally for the calendar year to 981 runs at 75.46. Talking to reporters after the game, Hayden would put his reformation down to not his skill, but mental preparation. “If you haven’t got a mental game plan in place, you’ve got nothing no matter how skilled or how well prepared you are,” Hayden was quoted as saying by the BBC. “The last 12 months of my career I’ve taken on a new level of mental preparation.”
After Martyn fell for 64 soon after Hayden’s dismissal, Australia however continued to cruise forward after lunch, with Adam Gilchrist spanking an unbeaten 60 from 59 balls, including four fours and two sixes. Finally, the hosts declared on 296 for five, with an overall lead of 463 runs. England’s fate was written on the wall in big, bold lettering.
Almost as if they had given up after Hayden’s bludgeoning, England collapsed to a very paltry and humiliating 79 all-out — their 12th-lowest score ever and ninth lowest against Australia — in their run-chase and fell short by a whopping margin of 384 runs to give the Aussies a 1-0 lead, and a huge psychological advantage — so much so that Steve Waugh declared after the match: “England will find it hard to come back from this. It’s a pretty devastating loss.”
Meanwhile, Hayden’s feat was lauded by the who’s who of Australian cricket, especially since he had almost matched up to The Don. Hayden had notched his seventh ton in 10 Tests, just one behind Don Bradman‘s record of eight in 10 matches, all against England between 1934 and 1938. “He’s the complete opener now,” former opening batsman Bill Brown said of Hayden. “He’s strong, he can hit the ball hard and his technique is very good. I don’t compare anyone with Bradman, and I think Matthew Hayden would be the last one who would want to be compared with him,” he said. “But he’s certainly doing a wonderful job for Australia. His stroke-making has improved and his general technique as a batsman has improved. He gets behind the ball well and hits it in the middle of the bat. I haven’t seen anything to approach Bradman as yet. The way he got them and his general batting put him in a class of his own.”
Hayden’s captain Waugh too heaped praise on his teammate: “Matty Hayden is batting almost as well as anyone in the history of the game at the moment. In front of his home crowds, it doesn’t get any better than that for him. He really deserved it. He’s worked very hard to get in the side and he’s not going to let it slip now.”
Meanwhile, Hussain tried his best to play down the role of the toss in the result. “The toss of a coin doesn’t win a Test match or lose a Test match,” he said. “A lot’s been made of that — I think it’s basically irrelevant.” However, in a later column for the Sunday Telegraph, Hussain admitted the obvious. “It’s obvious, blatantly obvious, that the decision I made to send Australia in to bat in the first Test was wrong. As England captain, I am paid to make decisions and I am big enough to admit that this one was a big mistake,” he wrote.
Not that it would have made a difference to Hayden, in any case. And to think, perhaps all of it wouldn’t have transpired if Caddick had kept his cool and given Hayden a respectful reply to some innocuous small talk. Here is an excerpt from Hayden’s autobiography Standing My Ground where he writes about an incident from the first day of the match:
“…I remember crossing his [Caddick's] his path at the first drink’s break and saying, ‘I haven’t really had a chance to say g’day…How are you going, Andy?’ He exploded. ‘How do you think I’m going?’ he roared, following with a volley of abuse that only lit a fuse inside me. It was precisely what I needed at the moment. I remember going into the dressing room at lunch and promising myself, ‘This prick is going to have bleeding feet by the end of the day, and I’m not going to talk to him for the rest of the summer!’
“Maybe Caddick was suspicious of me trying to start a conversation at such a stressful time. Admittedly, it probably wasn’t the best time for small talk, given Justin Langer and I had managed to stay afloat throughout the first hour. But it would have been a better tactical move for him to reply along the lines of, ‘Oh, battling along… How hot is Brisbane in November?’ Had he done that, I might just have dropped my guard against him slightly. Instead, I went back out after lunch with fierce resolve, making 197 in the first innings and 103 in the second.”
Australia 492 (Matthew Hayden 197, Ricky Ponting 123; Ashley Giles 4 for 101) and 296 for 5 decl. (Matthew Hayden 103; Andy Caddick 3 for 95) beat England 325 (Marcus Trescothick 72, John Crawley 69*; Glenn McGrath 4 for 87) and 79 (Mark Butcher 40; Glenn McGrath 4 for 36, Shane Warne 3 for 29) by 384 runs.
Man of the Match: Matthew Hayden
(Jaideep Vaidya is a correspondent at CricketCountry. A diehard Manchester United fan and sports buff, you can follow him on Twitter and Facebook)