Hail Hayden!

Sir, — This is with reference to Ted Corbett's article on The Ashes (The Sportstar issue dated July 23, 2005). Some of his statements are debatable.

Point 1: Corbett grossly underrates the Aussie opener Matthew Hayden. Considering the amount of runs he scored between 2001 and 2004, Hayden should be considered as one of the best opening batsman ever. He scored heavily against all opponents in all conditions with a high strike rate. At one point of time he had made 20 centuries in only 56 Tests! No wonder, some people hail him as the best opening batsman ever.

Corbett states that Hayden made his 380 against Zimbabwe's B team. Well, those runs were made against a bowling line-up comprising Streak, Blignaut, Ervine and Ray Price. Streak was as good as any of the English seamers in the last five years, while Price was a better bowler than Ashley Giles.

Lara's 400 against England came in 582 balls and lasted until the first session on the third day. Whereas, Hayden's 380 came in just 430 balls. It took him just five sessions, and it gave his team enough time to bowl out the opposition twice. Lara's innings didn't help the West Indies beat England because there wasn't enough time left in the match. Besides, Lara's innings was made on the Antigua pitch, which is one of the flattest of all times.

Point 2: Corbett and some other writers constantly point out that Australia has only three great players — McGrath, Warne and Gilchrist. One must not forget the tons of runs scored by Australia's top three — Hayden, Langer and Ponting — in the last four years. A glance at the Tests played by Australia in the last four years will show at least one (or more) century partnership between Hayden and Langer, Langer and Ponting or Hayden and Ponting. Their career record itself is a testimony to their greatness. Hayden has scored 20 centuries in 67 Tests; Langer has made 21 centuries in 88 Tests and Ponting 22 centuries in 88 Tests.

Point 3: Corbett says that Australia has not beaten a major side since Ponting took over as captain and that his captaincy has not been tested.

But beating Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka and India in India is far tougher than beating England in England. And that is what Ponting's Australia accomplished last year.

Ranjith R, Kerala Great team player

Sir, — Adam Gilchrist's hurricane century off only 81 balls in the deciding NatWest one-dayer underlined the Australian's superb batting technique.

The essence of Gilchrist's batting is his timing. In addition is the immense confidence he carries with him each time he walks in to bat.

His philosophy is to establish early supremacy over the bowers and not allow them to gain the upper hand. Gilchrist is a great team player. He is capable of batting in any position depending upon the needs of his team. His contribution to the success of the Australian team in the recent years has been immense.

D. Giridhar, Chennai The right choice

Sir — The selectors have done the right thing in appointing Rahul Dravid as the skipper of the Indian cricket team for the Tri-Series in Sri Lanka. It is not certain if the International Cricket Council (ICC) will lift the suspension on Sourav Ganguly. Besides, he has been barely successful in the English County and one cannot bank on his batting form at the highest level, considering his indifferent performance in the last few international matches. So, it is a good move on the part of the selectors to relieve him of the added responsibility of captaincy. He can now concentrate on his batting and win back the captaincy of the Indian team in the process.

Arjun Chaudhuri, Kolkata Ekki is the best

Sir, — The obituary on Eknath Solkar (The Sportstar dated July 9, 2005) should have mentioned the fact that he also held four catches as a substitute in Tests, which takes his tally to 57. This translates to two catches per Test — the highest by any standard.

The Indian team under coach Greg Chappell, a former world record holder of catches (seven) in Test cricket other than a wicketkeeper, should strive to attain high standards of fielding skills.

A. G. Kanetkar, Mumbai