Former Australian opener Matthew Hayden was one of the most dominating figures in world cricket. Hayden represented the typical Aussie culture of playing hard and giving no space to the opposition, so as to capitalize in any situation, whether at slips or with the bat.
The world-beating Aussie side, during the late 90s and the 2000s, was well-versed with the art of sledging.
Now, the former left-hander has recalled an incident involving sledging ‘Rawalpindi Express’ Shoaib Akhtar during the 2002 Sharjah Test match. In the match, Haydos engaged in verbal-spat with Akhtar and has now verbal-spat tagged him as a ‘B-Grade actor’.
“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 on The Grade Cricketer podcast.
“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,” he added.
“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’,” the former Baggy Green continued.
While detailing the incident, Hayden revealed how he included former Indian umpire Srinivasaraghavan Venkatraghavan into the midst.
“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 thought that’s my point (of leverage).”
“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’.”
“I think the only way that Shoaib is going to get me out here, is bowled — because Venkat’s definitely not going to give me LBW and I’m not going to get caught behind because this thing (the pitch) was an absolute Bunsen burner. It wasn’t bouncing more than a centimetre.”
“So all I had to do was stand my ground and that was it. He (Akhtar) got through his 18 balls and he collapsed at the end of it. And of course I take the opportunity to get my (fresh pair of) gloves I didn’t need and just go up to Shoaib and said, ‘You want to go off, don’t you?’.”
“And he says no. And I say, ‘Mate, come on. There’s no heroes in Test cricket. David Boon once said that to me. It’s hot and I know you’re busted. Just go off, I promise I won’t think any worse of you’.”
“Anyway, he called old mate on and he’s gone off and he didn’t participate in the rest of the Test match,” Hayden concluded.n The speedster bowled 14 overs in the game and took a wicket. Australia won the match by an innings and 198 runs.