Matthew Hayden, who was known for his sledges as much as for his cricketing skills, has recalled an incident from the 2002 Sharjah Test where he used mind games to distract Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar. Akhtar, too, was fairly chirpy with the opponents and was never shy to give it back.
In a recent interview, Matthew Hayden revealed how he sledged Akhtar ‘out of the game’ by using interesting tactics in a match in UAE. Matthew Hayden and Akhtar got involved in a heated exchange of words when the latter threatened the former by saying, "I am going to kill you today."
Hayden, who was up for the challenge, told Akhtar that he has 18 balls to 'kill him' as after that, he would turn into a "marshmallow that has been left on the plane for too long" due to the scorching Sharjah heat.
Matthew Hayden also complained to Srinivas Venkataraghavan, the Indian umpire officiating, about the antics of the Pakistan pacer, who was abusing the Australian opener constantly.
Matthew Hayden gives a detailed account
“I was a lot more aggressive when I was batting,” Matthew Hayden said. “Someone like Akhtar for example, [I used to] call him ‘B-grade actor’ for a start, which used to get under his skin a bit.
“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," Matthew Hayden told while speaking on 'The Grade Cricketer podcast'.
“’So here’s the thing, ‘Dumbo’ I said, ‘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’.”
Hayden then complained to the umpire when the abuses from Akhar just wouldn't stop. "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’. Venkat goes [imitating], ‘Oh yes, you’re right!’
The 48-year-old Matthew Hayden played 103 Tests and 161 ODIs for Australia, from which he scored 8625 and 6133 runs respectively. Akhtar, on the other hand, represented Pakistan in 46 Tests, 163 ODIs and 15 T20Is, taking 178, 247 and 19 wickets respectively.