On October 10, 2003, Australian opener Matthew Hayden became the highest individual run-scorer in a single Test innings when he went past Brian Lara’s 375, at the WACA against Zimbabwe, when he scored 380 runs. Jaideep Vaidya revisits the epic knock.
In December 2003, four Australian entities entered the Guinness World Records for the year. A New South Welshman called James Harrison had donated more blood (480 litres) than anyone else, a tanning salon in Ballarat did more tans in a day (66) than any other, and a group of lawn bowlers from Ballina played the world’s longest game, lasting 57 hours. The fourth was recorded at the Western Australia Cricket Association (WACA) ground in Perth, and it was the biggest batting record in the history of the sport.
Matthew Hayden did not lose any blood, did not get an artificial tan and was not out in the middle as long as the lawn bowlers, but in just over five sessions of cricket he had scripted one the most gargantuan innings ever seen. His 380 runs against a listless Zimbabwean attack at the beginning of the Australian summer broke the nine-year-old Test record of 375 runs accumulated by Brian Lara. On the way, he passed legendary names such as Graham Gooch (333), Don Bradman (334), Mark Taylor (334 not out), Wally Hammond (336 not out), Hanif Mohammad (337), Sanath Jayasuriya (340), Len Hutton (364) and Garry Sobers (365 not out).
Hayden’s career cycle had finally reached the top, after a slow and dragging start. Since making his debut in 1994, his first six Test matches were spread over three years. Between 1997 and 2000, he did not play a single Test as the selectors preferred to open the innings with Taylor and Matthew Elliott. However, a successful series against New Zealand in 2000, followed by a career-defining tour of India, where he scored an Australian record 549 runs in three Tests, Hayden had finally arrived in the Australian team.
Taking advantage of Zimbabwe captain Heath Streak’s generosity of allowing Australia to bat on what didn’t look like a typically seaming and difficult WACA surface, Hayden batted calmly through the first two sessions, reaching tea on Day One on 76. It was here that he decided to step on the gas. Hayden blazed his way to 183 when stumps were called, having added 107 in the final session, including 83 off his last 53 balls. Later that evening, in the Australian dressing room, fitness coach Jock Campbell asked Hayden how he was feeling after what seemed like a tiring day of batting in the sun. Replied Hayden, “180, no problems. I’ll turn it into 380 tomorrow.”
On Day Two, Hayden soon passed his previous highest Test score of 203 — made in India the previous year — and then his highest First-Class score of 235 not out. He then became the 16th batsman in the world and fifth Australia to score a triple century with a single to mid-off off Heath Streak. Not long later, he passed the highest individual score by an Australian of 334 — jointly held by Bradman and Taylor — with a single to long-off. It was a great occasion, but Hayden did not even know about it. “I’ve never been a stats junkie, so I genuinely didn’t know until that day that 334 was a magical number in Australian cricket,” he wrote in his autobiography Standing My Ground. “That’s one of the reasons I was pretty restrained when I passed it — it had never been my Everest.” Hayden carried on; he hit a maximum straight down the ground to reach 364, equalling Hutton’s score, before a single put him on par with Sobers’s 365. And then came the big one.
Hayden pushed spinner Ray Price for a single to mid-off in the last over before the tea break to pass Lara’s world record, before twirling his bat above his head and raising his hands to the crowd. He kissed his Baggy Green before embracing partner Adam Gilchrist in a bear hug. He would be dismissed four runs later.
The country had come to a standstill since the morning. Ever since the news broke that Hayden had crossed 334, work stopped across offices in Australia as people jammed in front of the television screens. Newsrooms were also in overdrive, what with the Rugby World Cup kicking off the same evening. Plans had already been made to fill the sports pages with the World Cup news, but the editors had to change their plans. Someone else deserved all the centre-spread coverage. Meanwhile, back at the WACA, “Stats and grand announcements were flying in all directions,” wrote Hayden. “One thing I will always appreciate about that innings was the amazing reaction I received from the Australian public. To hear people say they stopped work as I got close to the mark and that they’d remember that moment all their lives was heart-warming, and I tried to give something back to them by being as open as I could about the joy and pride I felt that day.”
Hayden’s epic had taken 437 balls, at a strike-rate of nearly 87. Even though it wasn’t against the best of attacks in the world, you could not downplay the effort that went behind it. He struck 38 fours, 11 sixes and a five. He shared partnerships of 97 with Damien Martyn (53), 207 with Steve Waugh (78), 96 with Darren Lehmann (30) and 233 with Gilchrist (113 not out). His innings was so long that the WACA scorer Charlie Bull ran out of space in the score book and had to use the 12th man column to record the last third of his innings. Later, Hayden would reveal that he had undergone an intense two-month fitness training at Stradbroke Island prior to the series, where he had scaled sand dunes. “Running up the dunes was wonderful not only for my fitness but also for my running technique, because it increased the length and power of my stride…It breaks you down, but when you’re tired on a cricket field you know you have something left in the tank — no assignment on green grass is as challenging as galloping up a sand hill.”
Later that day, Hayden got a call from the man whose record he had beaten. “I congratulated him on his record achievement,” Lara said, as quoted by The Guardian. “I am, and will always be grateful to have been chosen to hold the Test record for nearly 10 years and to belong to the elite group of batsmen who have headed the all-time scoring list. The record for Matthew is a testament to Australian cricket and their fast pace of play. A standard has been set which we must strive to achieve and pass. I wish Matthew and his family peace and happiness.” Incidentally, about 14 months prior to that day, Australian skipper Waugh had told an English paper that he could see only Hayden breaking Lara’s record. Waugh would later say that it was the cleanest ball-striking he had ever seen.
Ian Healy said, “I just can’t imagine what it’s like to score 380 runs — it’s more than I dream about in a season.”
Peter Roebuck wrote in The Age: “It was a magnificent effort. Hayden was awesome. In some hands a bat can resemble a wand. With Hayden it becomes a club. His defensive shots thundered back to the bowlers, leaving them wringing their hands. Repeatedly he took the ball on the rise and planted it into the stands. His concentration did not waver, his judgement was unerring and the ball was hit with ferocious power. It is not a bad combination.”
Australia 735 for 6 decl. (Matthew Hayden 380, Adam Gilchrist 113*; Sean Ervine 4 for 146) beat Zimbabwe 239 (Trevor Gripper 53; Brett Le 3 for 48, Jason Gillespie 3 for 52) and 321 (Mark Vermeulen 63, Heath Streak 71*; Andy Bichel 4 for 63, Darren Lehmann 3 for 61) by an innings and 175 runs.
Man of the Match: Matthew Hayden