Brisbane: Just retired Australian cricket opener Matthew Hayden has said that he played the game to earn respect.
After a career filled with runs, runs and more runs at the top of Australia's order, Hayden told the Sydney Morning Herald in an interview that when he took the decision to quit, he was extremely nervous about conveying it to his team mates, especially skipper Ricky Ponting.
Describing Ponting as a great person and leader, Hayden said: "He (Ponting) was great. He was like, ''I suppose I'm not changing your mind?'' I said, ''What do you reckon? No. "He said he was really surprised. I was nervous about telling him because I knew the magnitude of my conversation with him."
"One of the things I've genuinely loved doing is playing with Ricky over the years. Just playing for his captaincy and his legacy. If he asked me to do something, I would do it, without doubting it for one second. I have so much respect for him that I apologized for leaving him. I asked him for one thing. I said, 'I'd love to have you at the press conference.'' He said, "Done. Of course I'm there. "But he went a step further and got the entire team there."
"That was one of the greatest highlights of my cricketing life to have the whole team there when I announced my retirement. And it was Ricky's doing. That's what I played the game for - respect," Hayden said.
He also said that Ponting was not overtly worried about the criticism coming his way.
"No. He just knows so well who he is. He knows what he is about and he is going to stick to it. He's brilliant. Hasn't he copped some crap? What a joke. I've been lucky in that I've played under some great captains. Mark Taylor, Steve Waugh, Ricky, Stuart Law at Queensland. They're as brilliant as each other. I think I know what leadership is about, and Ricky is as good a leader as I''ve seen," said Hayden.
As far as his favourite moment was, he said it was singing the team song on top of Table Mountain in Cape Town.
"The sun was setting, we'd had a great afternoon in the change rooms, the whole place was closed, but the owner had given us special permission to go up there at night. To me, singing the team song was the ultimate, and that was the ultimate time and place. It was about the mateships, and the innings that define your mateships," said Hayden.