Melbourne: Former Australian opener Justin Langer believes Matthew Hayden will play beyond the Sydney Test, but is also aware how quickly retirement plans can hatch.
Langer says he was open to continuing his career beyond the 2006-07 Ashes, only to be struck by the retirement bolt on the eve of the Sydney Test.
"I remember Gilly saying to me last year, ''I thought you were a bullshit artist when you said you''ll wake up one day and know it''s time to retire, but it just happened to me''," Langer recalled.
"And I''m sure it''ll be the same with Haydos. There''s no point trying to forecast these things. If you, as a batsman, are trying to forecast it, you''re not going out there with the clarity of mind you need to succeed,â€ the Courier Mail quoted Langer, as saying.
"We speak pretty much every day, and I swear that he has not mentioned anything to me about it, or what he''s got on his mind in terms of playing on. He plays things pretty close to his chest about these kinds of issues, but I would be surprised if he is spending his days planning how he will leave the game. It could be next week, next year or two years. But when the moment comes, he will know," Langer said.
Hayden''s struggles this season have been well documented, and another set of failures in Sydney could well force the selectors'' hands, particularly with Phil Jaques nearing a comeback.
A large score, on the other hand, might convince both the opener and chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch that Australian cricket would be best served by him playing through the tour of South Africa and the Ashes. Either way, the importance of the Sydney Test cannot easily be overstated.
"I just keep sensing that he will peel off a magnificent century sometime soon," he said.
"I''ve watched him as closely as anyone else, and I could see in his body language in Perth that he wanted it a bit too much and was probably trying too hard to force it. But in Melbourne he looked much more relaxed, and he looked the goods while he was out there,â€ he added.
"My gut feeling is that he''s not far off and a big hundred might be just around the corner for him," Langer said.
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