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It's stumps for Hayden

AUSTRALIA batsman Matthew Hayden announced his retirement from international cricket yesterday, drawing stumps on a dazzling career as one of the greatest opening batsmen of all times.

The 37-year-old had planned to retire after this year's Ashes tour of England but told a Brisbane news conference he knew his time to quit had come.

"Today I am announcing my retirement from representative cricket effective immediately," he said.

"This is a decision that I have not taken lightly and I am here after much thought, consideration and discussion with my family and close friends.

"It is ultimately my decision and I know that now is the time to move on to the next stage of my life and career."

Hayden, a powerfully built left-hander and prolific run-scorer, played 103 tests for Australia between 1994 and 2009, scoring 8,625 runs at an average of 50.73.

The Queenslander completed 30 centuries including 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003, which briefly stood as the world record for the highest test score.

Hayden was just as effective as a one-day player, amassing 6,131 runs from 161 appearances and featuring in the Australian teams that won the 2003 and 2007 World Cups.

"There are zero regrets when it comes to my cricket performance," he said. "Rightly or wrongly I have tried to extract every ounce of ability I have been given and turned it into performance."

Hayden was a key member of an Australian team that dominated world cricket for the past decade, forming a devastating opening partnership with fellow lefthander Justin Langer.

Yet, Hayden's career will be remembered as much for his stubborn fight against adversity as the number and manner of runs he scored.

He was dropped after his first test in 1994 and made only six appearances before finally establishing himself as a permanent member of the team in 2000. He enjoyed a golden run over the next five seasons, piling on the runs and scooping up awards, before his age finally started to catch up with him and his teammates started to disappear.

Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath, Langer and Damien Martyn all retired during the 2006-07 Ashes series and Adam Gilchrist quit a year ago.

Hayden's place in the team was starting to come under scrutiny but he vowed to play on. He fought his way back into the one-day team to play a starring role at the 2007 World Cup but speculation about his future intensified over the last year.

His retirement came as little surprise after he was dropped from the one-day team last week and selectors revealed he was no longer certain of making the Ashes squad.

"I believe I could play Twenty20 and one-day cricket but I recognized it is time to move on," he said. "I have spent the last 17 years doing something I love and that has been playing cricket for my country. I've lived the dream of every kid who ever picked up a cricket bat or ball and wanted to wear the Baggy Green."

"Matty is a legend of the game - he's got nothing left to prove. His career stands alone," McGrath said of his former teammate.


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