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Hayden wants his ODI place back

Reuters
Aug 21, 2006 at 05:35pm IST

Melbourne: Matthew Hayden is determined to force his way into Australia's World Cup party next year even if he is overlooked for the Champions Trophy.

The 34-year-old, who has not featured in the world champions' side since July 2005, was included in Australia's preliminary 30-man Champions Trophy squad last week but is not expected to make the final party of 14 named on September 7.

"The message is loud and clear -- I want my spot back," the left-handed opening batsman told cricinfo.com. "I still want to play. I've been training hard in the off-season and it's just a matter of getting an opportunity in both forms of the game."

ON A COMEBACK TRAIL: Hayden hasn't featured in the Australian ODI side since July 2005.

Despite averaging 40.01 in 119 One-Day Internationals, Hayden has been overlooked in favour of Simon Katich, who provides more stability alongside the pinch-hitting of Adam Gilchrist.

Hayden was in danger of being dropped from the Test team until his century in the final Ashes Test at the Oval last year sparked a run of four hundreds in as many matches.

But he says he has adopted his game to the shorter format and is desperate to help Australia defend their world title in the Caribbean next year, with the Ashes series starting in November his best chance of earning a recall.

"When you're not playing you do miss it," Hayden said. "It wasn't my decision to be out of the side. It wasn't me who retired. I was dropped. So I had to look at ways to improve my game."

Meanwhile, Hayden played down the potential impact of England's overdue discovery of a world-class finger spinner in Monty Panesar.

Despite Panesar's recent match-winning performances against Pakistan, Hayden believes the proliferation of left-handers in the Australia team should nullify his threat.

"As a left-hander I've got a natural advantage over Monty because the ball is spinning into me. It's the same for the other aggressive left-handers we've got in our order."

The Champions Trophy starts on October 7 with Australia, who have never won the tournament, opening their campaign against a qualifier in Mumbai on October 18.

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