Tough and uncompromising. Mentor to youngsters. Gutsy and in your face. A team man but also a family man. A work ethic which was second to none. Forthright and honest. All these factors define Brad Haddin, Australia’s wicketkeeper, who announced his retirement from international cricket in Sydney on Wednesday.
“I came to the realisation after Lord’s. I’ve had a privileged run, but I lost the hunger on the Ashes Tour. It was an easy decision to retire.” With those simple words, it was the end of Haddin’s 15-year international journey. Having made his international debut in 2001 in an ODI against Zimbabwe in Hobart, Brad Haddin spent most of his time as an understudy to Adam Gilchrist in the era of Australian dominance. Following Gilchrist’s retirement in 2008, he stepped into the massive void and ensured Australia’s aggression continued.
What followed was seven years in the Baggy Green that saw many highs and lows for Haddin. In the 2008 series against West Indies, the first after the post-Gilchrist era, he played through pain of a broken finger but still lasted the distance. Having waited so long for the opportunity, the fact that he played through the pain barrier symbolised his determination.
The way how he took to the game and how it rubbed off on other players was best exemplified by current Australian skipper Steven Smith. He said, “Magnificent player, really took the game on. Batting at number seven, I think he really came out and played positively.
“I think there were a lot of times where he got us back into the game, just from sheer will and taking the game on. He was great at that, and I think a lot of keepers around the world can learn from the way he played.”
The ability to take the game on has also been praised heavily by Australia coach Darren Lehmann. During his tenure, Brad Haddin was appointed as the vice-captain of the team and this period saw him blossom on the field in both keeping and batting.
“The way he went about it as vice-captain of Australia was exceptional. He was instrumental in the Ashes, World Cup, series wins in South Africa. We had a lot of success with him in the team. He was fantastic around the group and he complemented Michael (Clarke) really well. He was a fantastic vice-captain for Australia, one of the best we’ve ever had.”
“The baggy green, the way he wore it with pride. The way he helped younger players. The way he helped drive the team as a whole. The way he helped coaches. The way he helped mould the team. The way we play today is an exceptional legacy for him. The way he thought about his family and helped his family through difficult times, and the way he helps other people’s family and friends.”
Haddin’s toughest period came in the 2011/12 season. His form was waning and India’s Zaheer Khan was winning the battle against him with both ball and mind. During that period, his young daughter Mia was ill and was soon diagnosed with cancer.
In the 2012 series against West Indies, he had missed matches to be with his daughter and on occasions, he put family over cricket. In his press conference, Haddin stated that he had no regrets over the decision.
“I’m not dirty … I’m no different to any other parent in Australia. My family needed me at that time and the reality is I was unable to take the field for Australia with the 100 percent focus I needed.
“I understood the consequences that went with my decision; I put myself in a position to lose my spot and I don’t regret that, not one bit. I wouldn’t change one thing because I don’t regret one thing that happened,” he said.
It was poignant that his daughter Mia was in attendance during the press conference. During the 2015 Ashes, Haddin’s forthright and honest assessment came through during the confusion surrounding his inclusion/exclusion in Edgbaston.
“In the end I made the call. I’m not there to muck around, we were there to play for Australia and we had to prepare the best we could and that meant Nev (Peter Nevill) had to keep.”
Nevill is now four Tests old and with Haddin’s retirement, Australia’s period of transition will be prolonged. The team will miss his expertise, his contribution against the odds and his ability to be the ultimate team man.
The retirement of Ryan Harris before the Ashes was a big blow. The retirements of Michael Clarke, Chris Rogers and Shane Watson to a certain extent pose a big challenge to Australia’s next generation of batsmen. However, it will be the retirement of Haddin that might hurt Australia the most, for they have lost a player who was aggressive when the odds were stacked against him.
Brad Haddin STats
|Test||66||3266||169 vs New Zealand|
|ODI||126||3122||110 vs New Zealand|
|T20I||34||402||47 vs New Zealand|