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Sehwag hails Hayden, says will be tough to replace

MATTHEW Hayden was a batsman of rare ability and Australia will struggle to find a suitable replacement for the retired left-hander, India's opener Virender Sehwag said yesterday.

Hayden drew stumps on a dazzling career on Tuesday as one of the greatest opening batsmen of all time and Sehwag said his retirement would come as a relief to bowlers worldwide.

The prolific 37-year-old played 103 tests between 1994 and 2009, scoring 8,625 runs at an average of 50.73 with 30 hundreds.

Underlining his class, the International Cricket Council said yesterday that Hayden was joint-10th among all-time test batsmen on ratings points and tied for 18th in the one-day list.

He was dropped after his first test and made only six appearances before finally establishing himself as a permanent member of the team in 2000, forging a devastating partnership with fellow left-hander Justin Langer.

"I have not seen an attacking batsman of his calibre in my career," Sehwag told Mumbai's DNA newspaper. "You can be sure that Australia will not be able to unearth an opener who can hit 20 centuries in the next eight years.

"If you look at my career I have played eight years and managed only 15 (hundreds)."

Sehwag, considered one of the hardest strikers of a ball in contemporary cricket, said Australia would sorely miss Hayden.

"His absence will be felt just as the retirements of Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath. Very badly, that is."

Warne, McGrath and Langer all retired after the 2006-07 Ashes series, Damien Martyn quit during that series and Adam Gilchrist retired a year ago, leaving the side considerably weakened.

Australia is struggling to stay on top of the test cricket rankings after losing to India and South Africa in recent months.


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