Ambrose best opposition bowler, McDermott fittest: Hayden

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Zafri Mudasser Nofil

New Delhi, Feb 6 (PTI) Aggressive Australian batsmanMatthew Hayden does not find a fittest cricketer than hiscountryman Craig ''Billy'' McDermott and rates West Indian fastbowler Curtly Ambrose as the ultimate fast-bowling package.

In his autobiography "Standing My Ground", Hayden talksabout the forces that shaped his journey from fringeinternational to one of the most attacking batsman in thegame. He also writes about cricketers who are superstitious,umpires he adored, the media, teammates and opponents amongothers.

"I still rate Craig ''Billy'' McDermott as the fittestplayer ever to have played the game. He was way ahead of histime in that regard, and his efforts were all the moreimpressive because his contemporaries in Australia''s bowlingunit � Tim May and Merv Hughes � were never going to get apodium finish in the local triathlon," Hayden, who isAustralia''s record-holder for highest score in Tests and OneDay Internationals, writes in the book, published byHarperCollins.

"McDermott challenged the contemporary belief thatfitness was a side issue in cricket rather than a centralingredient for success. Despite his fitness, he could at timesbe troubled by confidence issues, which was a surprise, givenhis immense talent for bowling � pace, swing, height, bounceand a great action."

Hayden also says that McDermott was "one of the firstcricketers to embrace the corporate world and seek privatesponsorships, which he generally flaunted in the dressing-room".

For the burly cricketer, Ambrose was the best oppositionbowler he ever faced.

"You were always under pressure with him�Every ballseemed a threat. I never felt comfortable on the front footagainst him and I couldn''t get back far enough. He was theultimate fast-bowling package," he says.

He has high words for Pakistani bowler Wasim Akram also.

"The only bowler who came anywhere near Ambrose was thegreat Pakistani bowler Wasim Akram, whom I faced only in one-day cricket, and towards the end of his illustrious career. Hewas amazing � almost too good for his open good.

"His swing bowling was so technically pristine that theseam was always in perfect position � so clear, in fact, thatyou could get a look at it and see what he was trying to dowith the ball."

Hayden says facing Akram was brilliant, because "I knewevery part of my game had to be in the groove to cope with hisgenius". .

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