One of Australia’s best opening pairs in Tests — Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer had dominated the cricket field in the 2000s, averaging 57 as a pair. They are back on the cricket ground but as rivals when Justin Langer’s Australia’s take on Pakistan, for whom Hayden is a batting consultant, when the two teams meet in the second semifinal of the ICC Men’s T20 World Cup on Thursday.
Hayden and Langer, once Australia’s much-feared opening pair and still the fourth-best partnership of all time in Tests, find their paths crossing in the UAE, are also very close friends — a bond that started while playing together for years with Australia.
Nicknamed ‘JL’ and ‘Hydos’, the duo said it does not matter which country they are associated with, their friendship is too strong for this talk of rivalry.
Hayden, who was the tournament’s top scorer in the 2007 T20 World Cup, said it is an unusual feeling to come up against Australia as part of Pakistan’s coaching setup.
He said: “It is a very unusual feeling, I was a warrior for Australian cricket for over two decades, so that does give me the benefit of having wonderful insights not only into these players but also into the culture of cricket in Australia.
“I guess from my point of view there is the challenge of the heart, the challenge of the mind in terms of what’s going to happen over the next 24 hours, but I’ll also say very proudly that it’s been wonderful to be a part of Pakistan cricket,” Hayden told the ICC during a chat ahead of Thursday’s semifinal.
Both of them said it does not matter which country they are coaching — their friendship will not be impacted.
“The great thing about cricket is, one, it gives us amazing memories, [and two,] it also gives us great friendships,” said Langer. “So whether Haydos is wearing a Pakistan shirt — he could wear any shirt — but we’re always going to be friends.”
“Whether he’s got a CA (Cricket Australia) shirt on, I’ve got a PCB (Pakistan Cricket Board) shirt on, it’s irrelevant,” added Hayden, “because the cricket conversation cuts to the heart of humanity and that is the love for the game.”
Hayden said Pakistan could cause an upset in the semifinal.
“We have some incredible young players, a mix of wonderful, experienced players in our lineup, and they and the team are performing admirably.”