Brisbane, Nov.22 : A struggling Australian opener Mathew Hayden appears to be seriously considering possible retirement from international cricket after his 100th Test.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Hayden has spent considerable time mulling his options over the past year, and while he insists the fire within still burns, he seems to know that at 37, his playing days are close being over.
"Longevity is fine if you've felt like you've contributed. To my way of thinking, if I summarise my first seven Tests, I didn't feel like I contributed at all during that period, as opposed to seven through to now, where you feel you've not only contributed but you've been a part of an era," the paper quoted Hayden as saying last week.
Hayden also makes no attempt to disguise how much he misses the teammates who have retired in recent seasons, most notably Justin Langer, with whom he shared a prolific and historic opening partnership.
"I miss those characters in the dressing room. They're great old warriors. There's no question that when those guys leave, there's a part of you - and the culture - that's not dead, but goes with them. It's an exciting opportunity right now to be involved in a culture that has lost some of the bright superstars of the game, and we've now got some emerging hardcore players, who have done their time, like I felt like I had done, and it's great to see how much they want it," he said.
"Punter' [Ricky Ponting] and I have a huge responsibility, definitely. We also have to back off and let other cultures within the team flourish. I guess it's just experience that tells you when you need to do something, or need to back away. I'm enjoying it all," he added.
Should he draw the curtain on his storied career this season, the list of replacements is more limited than some might imagine. A season-ending injury to Phil Jaques and the fall from favour of Chris Rogers leaves Shaun Marsh as the obvious candidate, although his first-class average of 35.35 hardly inspires. Selectors could feasibly look to convert Brad Hodge, or roll the dice on NSW rookie Phil Hughes, but both options are not without risk.