When Bob Carter was appointed to a second spell as Northamptonshire coach in 1999, the first thing he did was fly to Brisbane to sound out Matthew Hayden.
At that stage the big left-hander had played seven tests for Australia, but he had been waiting two years to be picked for his eighth. So in came Carter with an offer that played a large part in making Hayden the player he eventually became.
"I wanted somebody who could come in and give the place a whole new culture as captain and change the club. That was what I asked of him and in return he wanted an opportunity," the now Canterbury coach said. "It was perfect and a great learning curve for me to have a player of that calibre at the club and he certainly brought that hard Australian culture as well and demanded things from the players, as their captain.
"Initially at Northampton there was a little bit of softness but he certainly wasn't going to let anyone get away with anything, which was great for me as a coach. He really showed the way with his professionalism and work ethic, which was second to none."
Although Hayden put a huge amount into ensuring Northamptonshire was successful, Carter says he never lost sight of the ultimate aim.
"He was simply getting himself prepared to play for Australia again; he had no doubts that he was going to get back into the team. But I don't know if too many people would have had in the script that he'd go on to play another 96 test matches. But that came as no surprise to me because his determination was matched by the skill he had with the bat.
"We've remained friends and come across each other many times because of many days touring with the Black Caps (as assistant coach). "From my angle, he's been a great player and I feel, as a coach, that I've learnt a lot from him and it's been good to have that type of relationship with a player of that calibre. We had (Curtly) Ambrose at the club, who I didn't have a close relationship with, but I did have a reasonably close relationship with (Anil) Kumble who was with us when we did very well in 1995. But this (relationship with Hayden) was completely different."
Which appears to be the way with Hayden. Diamond geezer if you know him, but not so flash if you don't.
"He's a lovely person," Carter said . "I've had so many chats with him over the years and he was always very honest and very loyal and very humble about what he'd achieved in the game. Obviously I never played against him but I heard Black Caps talk about him.
"He did play the game hard, he was always up for a challenge and he was a giant of a man who came across that way. On the field he tried to impose himself, off it he was quite gentle in a social environment."
For Carter, though, it all comes back to the work ethic. "Without any shadow of doubt his career forms a big part of my ultimate (coaching) philosophy, having seen him make himself into a great cricketer. I heard him say on TV that he'd got every ounce of ability out of himself and to finish with that type of record is something you dream about."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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