Matthew Hayden divides cricket fans after Ricky Ponting's departure from first Test

The Aussie legend's commentary is proving to be a bone of contention for TV viewers.

Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting.
Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden filled the void after Ricky Ponting left the first Test early. Image: Getty

Matthew Hayden's commentary continues to be a bone of contention for Aussie cricket fans, and it proved particularly divisive on Sunday during the first Test between Australia and Pakistan. Hayden's voice has been a regular part of the Australian summer of cricket for a number of years now, with the former opener joining the ranks of retired players to move into commentary.

But the enthusiastic and boisterous commentary from 'Haydos' always seems to divide opinion, with the general consensus that the Aussie legend could probably tone it down a fraction. While TV viewers are usually of the opinion that "less is more" when it comes to commentary, Hayden seems to give fans their fill and then some.

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It was particularly noticeable on the final day of the first Test in Perth on Sunday, with Hayden's Channel 7 colleague Ricky Ponting leaving early to attend the IPL auction in India. Ponting coaches the Delhi Capitals in the T20 competition and is required at Tuesday night's auction.

He was forced to leave the Perth Test after day three and jetted off to India, leaving Hayden and other Channel 7 commentators to fill the void. But the extra commentary stints provided by Hayden weren't exactly met well by viewers.

Hayden's name was trending on X (formerly Twitter) on Sunday evening - but not for good reasons. Dozens of social media users were left calling for the Aussie legend to tone it down after the hosts completed a crushing 360-run win over Pakistan.

Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden during the first Test between Australia and Pakistan.
Justin Langer and Matthew Hayden in commentary for Channel 7 during the first Test between Australia and Pakistan. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Racing pundit Ralph Horowitz highlighted Richie Benaut's famous saying about commentary. "Stab in the dark, but Matthew Hayden not familiar with Richie Benaud's mantra yeah?" he asked. "'Put your brain into gear and if you can add to what's on the screen then do it, otherwise shut up'.”

Horowitz said Ponting was streets ahead of Hayden and his former opening partner Justin Langer in the box. "Ricky Ponting might be the best ever analyst," he added. "There's lots of talent there but the two great opening batsmen both have verbal diarrhoea, and it smacks of whoever is in charge not being prepared to tell them."

Another fan wrote: "Seriously, why is Matthew Hayden shouting all the time? At least Lyon's [500th] wicket is called by the calm Tim Lane giving it the reverence it deserves." Another commented: "I haven’t seen much of this Test match - has Matthew Hayden been this painful for the whole match?" However others defended the Queenslander and said they enjoyed his amusing antics.

Justin Langer call backfires as crowd for first Test criticised

Former Australia coach Langer also copped some criticism during the Test for continually talking about how much West Australians love their cricket. Unfortunately for Langer the crowd numbers didn't really back him up.

There was only a smattering of people at Perth Stadium on Sunday after crowds of 16,259 on Thursday and 17,666 on Friday. Those numbers would have filled the 18,000-capacity WACA, but looked rather horrible in the much larger Perth Stadium.

Fans watch the final session during day four of the first Test between Australia and Pakistan.
There were thousands of empty seats on the fourth day of the first cricket Test at Perth Stadium. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)
Fans, pictured here during the first Test between Australia and Pakistan.
Fans at Perth Stadium during the first Test between Australia and Pakistan. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Some pointed out that the match started on a Thursday and it wasn't even school holidays yet, but SEN reporter Sam Edmund said: “How many come each week to watch the (West Coast) Eagles get pumped? It’d be 40,000 plus. Yet we can’t get our West Australian friends interested in watching Test cricket in their own backyard.”

Former Australian Test player Simon O’Donnell said: “Their attendance is deplorable.” Journalist Dan Brettig of The Age wrote: “It is hard to escape the sense that Test cricket against anyone other than England and India is very much on trial in Australia.”

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