Brisbane: Matthew Hayden is coming out of retirement to play for the Brisbane Heat in Australia's revamped Twenty20 "Big Bash" cricket league.
Hayden, who retired from international cricket after winning two World Cups and playing 103 test matches, will be 40 when the tournament opens in December.
After leaving international cricket in 2009, the burly opener flourished for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League, and helped the club win the 2010 Champions League T20. He was the leading scorer int he IPL in 2009 with 572 runs at an average of 52 and a strike-rate of 133.81.
"Now is the time to start turning up the Heat," Hayden said on Monday as he confirmed his signing. He was the 14th signing for the Queensland-state club. The new league will comprise eight teams, with two each in New South Wales and Victoria states and one each in the other state capitals.
New Zealanders Brendon McCullum and Daniel Vettori are the two international players contracted to the Heat.
Hayden's private company has taken an equity position with the Heat in a five-year deal which will involve him taking a business development role in the club, meaning he will not seek re-election for the Queensland Cricket Board and will quit as a director of Cricket Australia to participate in the competition.
"T20 brings a new energy to the sporting landscape in a space I refer to as 'critainment.' T20 is now at the forefront of the development and expansion of our great game, both domestically and internationally," Hayden said. "An 8-team Big Bash League structure ... has relaunched my interest as a highly viable business decision."
Hayden will be working with Darren Lehmann, a former Australia teammate and now coach of the Heat.
"I took no time at all to say yes when the possibility of Matt playing for us was first floated," Lehmann said. "The man is a legend of our game and brings so much to any team he plays for, whether that's on the field, in the dressing-room, in the boardroom or away from the field with the fans."
The shortest form of cricket is ideally suited to a big-hitter such as Hayden, who scored 8,625 runs at an average of 50.73 in test cricket. His 380 against Zimbabwe in 2003-04 is an Australian record for a test innings. He averaged 51 in nine T20 internationals before retiring in 2009.