Hayden the time lord fires back to form with century

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The Independent Online

Darrell Hair could not say anything about Michael Clarke's inside edge but confirmed that Simon Katich had not grounded his bat and that Shane Watson had pulled the wrong ball. On each occasion the correct decision was reached. Whether it is wise to refer bat-pads is debatable.

A diminished figure in England, Hayden renewed himself with a powerful contribution. Any doubts about his place in the side were put to rest as he reached three figures with a booming straight drive.

Batting in the style first glimpsed at the Oval, Hayden advanced with the care of the man determined to prolong his career. Artists and sportsmen must constantly recreate themselves the better to meet changing circumstances. Sooner or later the man who stands still becomes a caricature. Previously inclined to impose himself, Hayden has realised that those seeking domination are not obliged to rush. Hard times concentrate the mind.

After seeing Justin Langer depart to a full-length swinger in an eventful first over from Steve Harmison, the Queenslander took his time. He has taken to letting the ball come to him, an approach that makes him appear less dangerous but more secure. In recent times Australian opening batsmen have been expected to charge to 30 at roughly the rate displayed by a racing driver whose wife's waters have broken. Here Hayden did not reach 30 till the last over before lunch. Along the way he square drove two wide deliveries from Jacques Kallis and otherwise played within himself.

Ricky Ponting scored most of the early runs against a weakened attack and let down by poor keeping. Lately Ponting's attacking innings have lacked the staying power of his great defensive effort at Old Trafford. A shaky start was followed by promising pulls and straight drives that were betrayed by an indiscretion outside off-stump.

Just as Hayden was gathering momentum, Australia lost two more wickets. Promoted to second wicket down, Clarke had to wait as Rudi Koertzen sought confirmation that he had edged Daniel Vettori to silly point. Hair admitted that he could not tell, whereupon the South African relied on his own judgement. Moments later Katich's bad luck continued as he collided with Muttiah Muralitharan while trying to break his duck. Unable to beat Graeme Smith's direct hit, the left-hander trudged back to the pavilion.

Gilchrist's appearance changed the course of the day. Hitherto a World team, packed with batting but dismayed to lose the toss on another slow antipodean pitch, had held its own.

Continuing the cheerful clubbing seen in Melbourne, the gloveman reached double-figures with a straight six. Taking advantage of a stiff cross wind, he stepped down the track to lift both spinners over the short boundary at mid-wicket. Pulls, late cuts and scintillating drives followed as the World wilted.

Encouraged, Hayden opened his shoulders. At 85 he was dropped behind the wicket off Murali's off-break. He powered ahead until finally the opportunity arose to reach three figures, with its redemption and security.

Eventually Hayden cut to point to end an innings lasting 180 balls. Watson collected unobtrusively against toiling spinners before pulling a low delivery but Gilchrist continued merrily for 109 balls till bad light ended the day a few minutes early whereupon a crowd of 21,832 drifted away into the gathering night.

* John Buchanan, the Australian coach, has been given an extension of his contract until the end of the World Cup in April 2007.