Matthew Hayden, who served Australia for 15 years, was known to dismantle the opposition not only with his batting but also for cruel sledging. In the recent interview, he shared the same story when he brutally sledged the aggressive pacer Shoaib Akhtar, who feared batters with bouncers and pace.
Standing at the slip position, Hayden gave an earful to the batsman at the striker end which mentally distorted the player. He broke the rival’s spirit and aided the bowlers to get rid of the batsman easily.
Speaking on The Grade Cricketerpodcast, Mathew Hayden recalled the cricket field story of the 2002 Test against Pakistan where his countrymen stood victorious. He revealed how he mentally broke down the then fastest bowler Shoaib Akhtar.
However, Pakistani cricketer was the first to start the verbal confrontation but Hayden stretched it and led Akhtar to suffer. The Aussie challenged Akhtar to get him out within 18 balls even before he faced any ball.
“Someone like Akhtar for example, I’d call him ‘B-grade actor’ for a start, which used to get under his skin a bit,” Hayden said.
“We were playing in Sharjah and it was 58 degrees out in the middle and Akhtar, when we walked out, said, ‘I’m going to kill you today’ in a whole lot more colourful language. And I said, ‘Mate, that’s terrific, you know I’m looking forward to that challenge’ in a lot more colourful language.
“So I said, ‘But here’s the thing, Dumbo. You’ve got 18 balls to do it. You’ve got three overs because you’re going to turn into a marshmallow that’s been left on the plane too long and is going to be dripping down and I’m going to be the one at the other end of those 18 balls that’s going to be mopping it up’.”
Matthew Hayden used India-Pakistan relation to beat Shoaib Akhtar:
When Matthew Hayden entered the field, he thought to use Venkatesh Prasad, former Indian cricketer, who was officiating that match, in his favour.
As Hayden was counting ball from one to 18, Akhtar got irritated and abused him. Then the Australian seized the opportunity and went on to complain Prasad about Akhtar’s language. And as he wanted, Umpire Venkat gave Akhtar a stern talking to as he walked him back to his mark.
“I go right, how can I get Shoaib looking like an absolute goose and how can I tell Venkat about this? Now India and Pakistan, there’s no love lost there, so I though that’s my point (of leverage),” Hayden said.
“So as Shoaib’s running in to bowl and he’s cursing every profanity under the sun at me, I get to his bowling mark as I’m counting down his balls from one to 18. He gets to his delivery stride and I pull out. He runs at me going, ‘What’s the problem?’
“I said, ‘I’ve got a problem’. I storm up to Venkat and say, ‘I give everything on the game, I deserve everything I get, but within the protocols and etiquette of the game, surely you can’t be running in and abusing someone.”
At last, Akhtar could not dismiss Matthew Hayden within three overs as the latter claimed to do. The savage sledging of the latter had led the former’s confidence down. The right-arm bowler bowled only 14 overs in that clash and picked up 1/42 as Australia won by an innings and 198 runs (Hayden plundered 119 runs).