Former Test opener Matthew Hayden cites ‘arrogance’ over cricket schedule amid Gabba loss

The West Australian
VideoCricket: Indian coach Ravi Shastri admitted he was brought to tears after watching his side claim victory at the Gabba.

Former Test opener Matthew Hayden has heaped blame on cricket’s administrators, citing ‘arrogance’ as the reason for Australia’s long-standing unbeaten record at the Gabba coming to an end.

India’s historic triumph on Tuesday marked the first time Australia had suffered defeat in a Test match at the Brisbane ground since 1988.

To be clear, Hayden did not suggest the fixture re-jig cost Australia victory, with India clearly the better side, however he suggested the usual fear around the Gabba was diluted by the fixture change.

The Queensland-based Test match is the traditional summer opener, but was flipped on its head this series, fixtured as the final match of the Border-Gavaskar trophy.

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Hayden, who played 103 Tests for Australia and represented Queensland for nearly two decades, said Australia had entirely lost the hostility that gave them the upper hand for 33 years.

“When it comes to the Brisbane Test match, there is an air of confidence and arrogance at that venue in particular,” Hayden said on The Fast and The Curious podcast.

“It’s the first Test match typically of the summer and what happens is the touring side come over and play warm-up games at a neutral venue, then they’ll go over to the WACA, they’ll get pounded by the great West Australian attacks over the years.

“Then, you beauty – you pencil them in for the Brisbane Test match at easily the most unique ground in Australia and even in the world.

“So that was how it rolled, you got a real level of confidence out of the fact you were putting an opposition side into the most hostile environment there was possible in Australia and you’re looking to absolutely smash them.”

That scenario couldn’t have been further from reality this summer as Australia did their best to hold on for a draw, before the reputation crushing defeat unfolded.

On top of India’s gutsy performance, Hayden says the fixture overhaul is largely to blame for taking the sting out of Australia’s usual advantage.

“Typically we see it as a very difficult game and it’s relative to how it is that we perceive the Gabba to be,” he added.

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“It begs the question really of the arrogance I think, of the administration that have changed the format of the sides touring and how they go about it.

“India should always play at Brisbane (first) and the WACA.”

Former Test quick Mitchell Johnson said the schedule can’t be blamed for the loss, but agreed it was unanimous where the first match of any home series should be played.

“Brisbane should always be the first Test,” he said.

“I don’t want it to be an excuse, it is difficult for teams coming in to play Brisbane first up.

“It’s always been that little bit of an advantage for the Australians. We can’t go away from the amount of grit the Indian team had throughout this Test series with all the injuries they had.”

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