Australia’s thrilling eight-run win in last night’s Enormous Bank Logo Series game (doesn’t that big yellow diamond look proud against the new dark green uniform? What a lucky coincidence that for the first time in 30 years we’re not wearing a yellow that would make it hard to see!) evidently sealed Matthew Hayden’s place in the World Cup team:

…he surely has done enough to earn a place on Australia’s World Cup squad.” — The Age

“…an innings which should seal his spot … for the upcoming World Cup.” — ABC Online

And of course we all love him. But with Australian cricket so strong, with Phil Jaques and a queue of others bursting to get into the team, why is it so important that veterans consolidate their positions? Surely we’d be happier if, say, 25 year-old Michael Clarke had done better than seven and a dodgy two-fer?

Around the cricket world, some of the modern game’s greatest names are preparing for the pension queue. Shane Warne is already there; Glenn McGrath will join him at the end of the World Cup. Adam Gilchrist and Hayden himself are winding into their late thirties in, it has to be said, mixed form.

Elsewhere, Brian Lara is about to turn 38 and though he has made noises about retirement, his team’s form could keep him in cricket longer than WG Grace. Sachin Tendulkar may be only 33 but he is a shadow of the little master he was.

Chaminda Vaas and Shaun Pollock are 33; Muttiah Muralitharan and Rahul Dravid are 34, an age Stephen Fleming will reach during the World Cup. Inzamam Ul-Haq and Marvin Atapattu are 36 and latest archaeological evidence suggests Sanath Jayasuriya may be more than nine hundred years old.

None of these men will play another World Cup after this year’s Caribbean carnival of cricket, but many won’t even make it through another year. The last 20 years have been an extraordinary period for individual talent in world cricket.

Who will take the game beyond 2007?

Peter Fray

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