A BATTING WITH BIMAL BREAKING REPORT: Matthew Hayden retires from all forms of cricket

Hayden hinted that his time could possibly be up last summer

Former Australia opening batsman Matthew Hayden has announced his retirement from all forms of cricket effective immediately after he chose not to play for the Brisbane Heat in the upcoming Big Bash League later this year.

Hayden’s decision was not a big shock for most people since he had noted it was a big possibility last summer.

“I don’t think I’ll play again next year…this will be it for me, there’s just so much happening in my life, you can never wind back the clock…I’m a father of three firstly and I have a lot of work to do off the field,” Hayden said last December.

After going on a holiday at the end of the tournament last year, Hayden grappled with the decision whether to continue or not, but in the end he decided that enough was enough.

He is now looking to become a board member or potential financial stakeholder after the Big Bash League was extremely successful in the 2011-2012 season.

Last year, Hayden’s business company, The Hayden Way, had announced that it was interested in becoming a partner in ownership of the Heat last year, but before anything was finalised, Cricket Australia put a stop to its private ownership plans.

“This marks the closing of the book in terms of playing, it wasn’t a very easy decision I must admit, [The Heat coach] Darren Lehmann created a really fun environment to go out and play cricket. It is hard as an athlete to leave your comfort zones and leave something you love as much as I did. But every dog has their day and certainly I perhaps wasn’t at my best last season, but I definitely was the best I could be, and that was something I was proud of for 20 years,” Hayden said.

Hayden also played for the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League (IPL), but stopped after the Champions League in 2010.

After being included as a board member of Cricket Australia and Queensland Cricket, Hayden decided to drop both posts and play for the Brisbane Heat in the inaugural Big Bash League tournament.

While Hayden has always thrown his support behind Twenty20 cricket, he is starting to grow increasingly frustrated with the packed schedules cricketers nowadays have to face, and he believes that there is no reason for tournaments like the International Cricket Council (ICC) Champions Trophy to even exist.

Hayden was also quick to support the idea of a Test Championship, which has been put on hold till at least 2017 by the ICC.

“Forever more now the landscape is challenged by the quantity of cricket, you just as a fan follow different tournaments around the world with great difficulty. There’s a consistent lack of focus and direction on some of the major tournaments. There’s the World Cup naturally…2015 is going to be a significant year for Australian cricket and New Zealand cricket, but there’s other tournaments like the Champions Trophy for example that hold little or no relevance in the context of cricket and the landscape,” Hayden said.

“It is hard to make those decisions, and there’s lots of angles from which administrators look at those decisions, no more so than commercial aspects of the game. For the fan there’s definitely too much cricket, for the player there’s definitely not enough relevance to the forms of the game you play. And some of the longer versions of the game as well need some refining and some parameters put around them to make every game as important genuinely as the last one you played. If we do get that mix right…we’ve now got our little brother in T20 cricket who is now really rising up and establishing a connection with fans, and ultimately that’s what the game’s about,” Hayden added.

Hayden also noted that the emergence of many domestic Twenty20 competitions would be good for the sport since it allows youngsters to step up and make a name for themselves.

However, some cricket boards believe that players are putting competitions like the IPL ahead of representing their country, and a prime example of this is Kevin Pietersen and the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

“Players haven’t ever had the opportunity to be challenged in terms of who actually contracts them, now you do have the opportunity to play for the Brisbane Heat, for the Chennai Super Kings, for your country or in Kevin’s case his previous country as well. There’s so much range and it’s a good thing for the athlete, because it hones their skill. Someone like Ricky Ponting will say frankly ‘I’m relatively uninterested in T20 cricket, but Test cricket is where I really want to be’. Michael Clarke’s had a similar view. I think that’s great because it does allow athletes a broader range of opportunity,” Hayden said.

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