Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Desperate times

For a man who has contributed diddly-squat, Matthew Hayden is talking up a pretty high game. His only innings of substance in this series so far has been a maniacal 29 that did not just hint at the desperation behind it, it reeked to high heavens. Since the game (which, by the way, the Aussies lost) Hayden is in full form, filled with bluster much like the thirsty wanderer in a desert who will drink the sand if need be.

Matthew Hayden has made runs all over the world and will make many more in the days to come. It is highly unlikely that he will not make significant runs in the remaining two Tests. But his interviews are quite unbecoming of the man who has fronted Ricky Ponting's assault on the captaincy record books. Patrick Smith hits the nail on the head perfectly.
It is almost that Australia is in denial. Hayden, who has made 0, 13, 0, and 29, has said that he believes he has Zaheer Khan on the back foot. For the record the Australian opener has made 17 fewer runs than Zaheer, who bats when no one else can. And who has batted half as many times. With the ball Zaheer has taken 10 wickets - more than any Australian and second only to Ishant Sharma - at the very good average of 26.

Hayden's diagnosis that Zaheer is on the point of a nervous breakdown is based on the bowler's abuse of him when the Australian was dismissed for 29 in the second innings of the second Test. Hayden apparently had brought Zaheer to this brink when he charged his first ball of the second innings. That the ball was mis-hit and looped dangerously close to mid-off was, it seems, a victory for Hayden and not the bowler.

Said Hayden: "Zaheer Khan has been put under pressure a lot by myself and Gilly (Adam Gilchrist) in all the tournaments we've played in one-dayers. I have also tried to emulate that when we've played Tests. I just feel he is vulnerable when he's like that."

Not only is it such graceless gibberish, it is also foolish. Unable to bully India as it has in the old days, the veterans of the team hanker for the good times when they could back up their words with significant deeds. Times change. Australia has no response to losing other than a childish attempt to bully its way back to the top. In victory it has learnt to gloat and nothing else.
Contrast Hayden's desperate tones with the measured ones of his captain. In an age where cricketers can reel of all kinds of statistics to show how good their form is, Ponting is honest enough to accept that three failures by him have put a lot of pressure on the rest of the team. Incredible really, since he scored 123 in the first innings of the series. If this was almost anyone else, they'd be throwing that century in everyone's face.
"I've got to stand up as much as the next bloke," Ponting said. "It's been three innings since I had an impact on the game with the bat." Ponting opened the series with his first century in India but followed with 17, 5 and 2.
Which is why Ponting should have a good game at the Kotla while Hayden suffers. Unfortunately, cricket does not dish out answers in such a prudent manner. Let's see what transpires over the next 5 days.

The cricket match is about to start and off I go!

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