Warne would`nt have been good captain: Hayden

Last Updated: Saturday, February 5, 2011 - 21:31

New Delhi: Shane Warne would not have achieved much success had he been made Australian captain as he often wants to be on his own and the first one to break strict team rules, says his former teammate Matthew Hayden.

Hayden wrote in his autobiography `Standing My Ground` that Warne used to get away with his ways on many occasions because of his precocious talent and that could hardly be a trait of a captain.

"Strategically, Warne might have made a great Test captain, but I am not sure he`d have been as successful as the two men chosen ahead of him, Steve Waugh and Ricky Ponting, because he would not have been as inclusive as they were," Hayden wrote.

Hayden cited one instance when Warne gave a damn to the team rules -- during the much-criticised booth camp conceived by coach John Buchanan as a means of team bonding before the 2006 Ashes in Australia.

"On first day, we were taken to a warehouse. All we were allowed to take was a backpack, a sleeping bag, a hutchie, a couple of shirts, two pairs of socks, some undies, joggers and small items. Predictably, Warne had too much stuff, including several packets of Benson & Hedges (cigarette), which were taboo.

"Warnie told (the main in charge) `they are medicinal. Just to set the record straight: I will do whatever you want me to do, but if these don`t go, the King`s is not going. So the iron-clad army rules were broken -- in the first hour of the camp! ... the King got his way," Hayden wrote.

"I laughed at the incident ... great talent often comes with a bit of rebelliousness. Deep down I had mixed feelings about Warnie getting away with it because the purpose of being there was to knuckle down and rebuild (after the 2005 Ashes humiliation in England). And if you were not going to be part of the solution, you were only creating more problems. The `my way or highway` mentality was the reason for having the camp in the first place," he wrote.

Hayden, however, said that "a shamelessly rebellious and brutally honest" Warne was easier to deal with than many players as "you knew exactly where you stood".

Hayden felt one of the reasons why Warne could not do well in India, where pitches assist spinners, was he chose wrong strategy by only thinking of turning the ball too much.

"I thought Warnie`s problem in India was simply that he tried to spin the ball too much. Big turn never worried the Indians. They have played it almost from the cradle. Warnie would have been better bowling a straighter line, keeping the pressure on with sliders and zooters and other more subtle tricks," Hayden wrote while recalling how VVS Laxman and Rahul Dravid orchestrated one of the most memorable Test wins after following-on at Eden Gardens in Kolkata in 2001.

"There was no question Warnie had the ability to test the Indians, and it was never a matter of them being too good for him. He just had the wrong strategy," he said.

Hayden retired in 2009 after scoring 8625 runs from 103 Tests at an average of 50.73 but he said he had full of self doubt early in his international career which even led him to go for meditation before a Test.

"I was full of doubts about the present and future. I felt I was walking a tight rope every innings. I was not good enough, I was close, but not the full package - I lacked the mental stamina to thrive in Test cricket. The nuts and bolts of my game were up to Test standard, but crucial self-belief was missing. I had it a few years later, when I was able to absorb some setbacks in the comfort of knowing I`d made 20-plus Test tons," the Queenslander wrote, recalling his early struggling days.

Hayden made just 15 and five in his debut Test in March 1994 against South Africa in Johannesburg and in his comeback match in December 1996 against West Indies, he again lopped by scoring five and a duck.

He thought he would be dropped for the next Test in Adelaide in early 1997 but surprisingly retained his place. But before this match, he was so much under pressure that he found himself in a trance-like situation while attending a meditation class at a place near his team hotel.

"During the meditation class I drifted into a trance-like state and actually fell asleep. For a while it seemed my problems had been solved but then, halfway through the class, I woke up in a nervous sweat. It was as if I`d dreamt about edging Curtly Ambrose`s first ball to second slip!," he wrote.

Through his countless ups and downs, Hayden had sensed that Allan Border, another Queenslander, had been a constant backer of him. But that did not stop Hayden from having a verbal showdown with Border during a match between Queensland versus New South Wales.

"AB`s temper was legendary. In a match against NSW at the Gabba in 1993, just after we had been bowled out he was stoking us up for a red-hot effort with the ball because he thought we still have five overs to play before stumps ... but the stumps had been drawn (by the umpires).”

"Back came AB with a cry `let`s get into them`. I said, `... they have drawn stumps`. He just exploded. `So you are happy with your performance today, are you?` I had made just nine and this set me off. `It`s all right for you to hide down at number five or six - why don`t you come up to the top of the order and see how happy you are`."

True to the title of his autobiography, Hayden said subtle diplomacy have never been his strong point and he would speak his mind out though the directness had brought his share of awkward moments.

Hayden said he had stood his ground and not shied away from a fight early in his international career, even against a man of reputation of David Boon, a senior member of the team by then.

A wrestling duel with Boon took place in England in 1993 when Hayden was in his first international tour though he returned without playing a Test.

"The trip back to our hotel in London saw a full-on wrestling bout between the man who may have been a sumo wrestler in another life - David Boon - and someone who was not really spoiling for a rumble but was happy to oblige - me.”

"In true style of those times beers were on offer on bus. I was with Merv (Hughes) and AB (Allan Border) when Boonie challenged me. He was strong as an ox and he came at me hard. It started as a bit of fun but then it became serious. It all changed when he pushed me head-first into the side of bus. By this stage the boys were egging us on. It became a battle of egos as well as bodies, a full-on World Wrestling Federation bout between Hitman Hayden and Bad to the Bone Boon.

"I grabbed him in a headlock and powered him down to the back of the bus, jamming his head between two seats. `Do you give up?` I roared. `No!` came a muffed reply. I forced him back into the same spot twice more. There are few proud characters than Boonie. Each time I asked him whether he would give up, and he was defiant," Hayden narrated the incident.

Hayden also revealed that he lost his front teeth after being hit by a ball while playing club cricket much before his international debut.

"I had to wear big steel braces to strap my new top teeth in. Brad Pitt would`ve struggled to get a date with those braces on. I did my best to try to cover them on nights out by ultra-extending my top lip - you could have mistaken me for a young John Buchanan - but whenever I was talking to a member of fairer sex I knew once I smiled I`d soon become the loneliest guy in the room," he wrote.

Claiming that the 2005 Ashes loss in England was one of the low points of Australian cricket, Hayden admitted players lost "perspective, individually and collectively" during that tour and the team did not have the bonding as a unit.

"The Ashes loss proved a cathartic experience for Australian cricket ... a post-Ashes inquisition, something that had never happened in my cricket lifetime. You can analyse stats and consider what-ifs, but the fact was that we lost because we did not prepare well enough.”

"Before the series, we had too many distractions. Players were squeezing in team sponsorship duties on days and nights before Tests. The day before one Test at Gabba, four players were flown to Stradbroke Island to film a CA-sanctioned commercial," Hayden wrote.

PTI



First Published: Saturday, February 5, 2011 - 00:00

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