When Hayden refused Ponting’s secret offer

January 18th, 2009 - 5:50 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Jan 18 (IANS) Australia captain Ricky Ponting in a secret offer wanted to skip Tuesday’s Twenty20 match against South Africa to allow Matthew Hayden a testimonial game at the Gabba to celebrate his retirement.A few hours before Hayden faced the media to announce his retirement, Ponting and a former Test player cropped up the plan to give the 37-year-old the ultimate send-off at his home ground, it was reported by The Daily Telegraph.

Ponting called Hayden around 9 a.m., two hours before the press conference, and told him about the plan. But Hayden politely refused the offer to lead the side.

“Ricky did ring me on the morning of the game. He said ‘I’ll stand down for you if you want to play one last time’,” Hayden was quoted as saying by The Daily Telegraph.

“I was blown away by Ricky’s gesture, I said, ‘thanks mate, but I can’t do it’. I had made my decision. I was retiring in a couple of hours and I didn’t want to make the announcement and then go out there and play for Australia. For me it has always been about the team and it would have disrupted them. I was rapt with the lap of honour. It was a great way to say goodbye,” he added.

The idea was the brainchild of a former Test star, who did not wish to be named. He said that Ponting was more than happy to make way for Hayden once the idea was raised.

“I said to Ricky, ‘how about if you gave Haydos one last game?’ Ricky said it would be a great idea, we’ll see how we go, but Haydos knocked it on the head. I’m not sure what Cricket Australia would have said because Punter (Ponting) would have had to stand aside,” the former Test star was quoted as saying by the daily.

Cricket Australia (CA) would have been required to ratify the plan, but the idea did not reach an official level because Hayden declined Ponting’s offer. CA spokesman Phillip Pope said the Hayden cameo would have been difficult to ratify as the veteran opener had formalised his retirement with CA boss James Sutherland.

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