Matthew Hayden, one of the finest flat track bullies ever to wear the Green & Urine, has finally announced his retirement from first class cricket. Arguably our greatest proponent of front foot sledging, Haydos told an emotional press conference that he no longer had the ability to cuss opponents like he once did and it was time a younger player stepped into his shoes as opening abuser.

Poor Matty. The hurt he must feel at those un-Australian attacks from the public and some in the media who argued that being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to score runs meant just that.

Okay, so he failed to make a decent score in the series against South Africa … and New Zealand before that … and in India he may as well have called in a locum … and that Ashes series loss in England when he made Scott Muller look like a Test cricketer … but really, big Matty Hayden, Haydos, the man who knows one end of a BBQ from the other, he’s more than just a run machine that ran out of gas. He’s a great Australian, or so News Limited tells us.

And didn’t Matty’s farewell bring out the best in our leaders? To see Stephen Smith gush about this “great lefty” is just so patriotic it makes you want to wrap an Aussie flag ’round you and go bash a darkie at Cronulla Beach. If only Baz had thought to cast him in Australia …. but apparently Nicole Kidman was his first choice as Lady Sarah Ashley.

Spare a tear for those poor folk at KFC who now have the ignominy of having their 11 secret fried hormones spruiked by a retiree (Haydos), an underperforming dud (Symonds), and Mr Croquet (Hussey). Surely Matty should have been allowed to remain an international cricketer while the chicken and Ford ads remained on TV this summer?

Of course, we have Haydos’ many great feats to hold dear. Who will ever forget October 2003, when the great man smashed a then world record 380 against Zimbabwe? What cricket lover doesn’t have forever embedded in their memory the way Matty somehow mastered the fine bowling attack of Ervine, Gripper, Bignaut and Price? And in Perth too, where the Zimbabwean pace attack was at its most lively and dangerous.

It wasn’t just cricket powerhouses like those well fed boys from Harare who felt the wrath of the big man’s bat. Hayden scored many a fine century against some of the best non-seaming attacks in the world. Boy oh boy could he rip apart a bowler who couldn’t get the ball to reverse swing or move off the seam.

But if Matty Hayden should be remembered for one contribution to the Green and Urine, it must surely be his fine sense of Christian sledging. The Reverend Jim Jones would have been proud of our lad.

Adam Gilchrist, something of an iconoclast in the Waugh/Ponting school of “mental disintegration”, once rushed to Haydos’ defence when Indian players noted big Matty was just about the most unpopular international player around.

Gilly rightly pointed out that Ian Healy holds that honour after his poetic and thoughtful reminder to Desmond Haynes that he was indeed a “black c-nt”.

So where to now for Australian cricket? Is this young slogger David Warner up to it in terms of racial vilification and ethnic cleansing? Phil Jacques seems a bit too multicultural to take on the Haydos mantle, so perhaps the selectors should look to Queensland for a fitting replacement. Shane Watson can’t bowl, bat or field, but he knows how to abuse an opponent.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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