After Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) confirmed that Australia will tour the nation for the first time in 24 years, Matthew Hayden termed the decision ‘a wonderful announcement’. Hayden, Pakistan's batting consultant at the T20 World Cup 2021, asked the Australian players to embrace the opportunity.
Australia will tour Pakistan for an all-format tour in March 2022, which marks their first tour of the country since 1998. The tour will comprise of three Tests, three ODIs, and a one-off T20I. The two teams will play three Tests in Karachi, Rawalpindi, and Lahore respectively, with the first Test beginning on March 3. Following the Test series, Pakistan and Australia will then contest in three ODIs between March 29 and April 2. The lone T20I in the tour will be played on April 5.
Reflecting on Australia’s tour of Pakistan, Matthew Hayden stated that it is a significant moment for both the countries’ cricket.
"A wonderful announcement as well in the last few days about Australia touring Pakistan in February, something that hasn't been done for, I think, 28  years now. I know that from an Australian cricket point of view, that is not only a significant moment for Australian cricket, but also for Pakistan cricket," said Hayden on a virtual press conference.
The former Australian batsman further stated that the only regret in his career is not being able to tour Pakistan as an international cricketer. Hayden, who is serving as Pakistan's batting consultant at the ongoing T20 World Cup, further added that the Australian players should embrace the opportunity of touring a country which is an important part of the cricketing community.
"It's certainly the one regret that I have in my career is not being able to travel to Pakistan as an international cricketer, in spite of having such great and unique challenges, one of which is as a head coach here right now in Saqlain, who's a wonderful spin bowler. And then a myriad of fast bowlers who naturally I would have loved to have played in a home environment, Waqar and Wasim, Shoaib, just fast bowling like no other. As an opening batsman, that's what you want to try and face, and to not have the opportunity to do that in Pakistan is a regret of mine," Hayden said.
"Embrace it, be a part of the future of Pakistan Cricket, and it's a hugely important part of the cricket community. I'm sure that they are looking forward to traveling to Pakistan."
Speaking on Pakistan’s semi-final clash against Australia on Thursday, Hayden believed that the Babar Azam-led side have a well-balanced squad who can make it to the finals at the marquee event. However, he admitted Australia are a tough opponent, especially in World Cups.
"Yes, it (T20 World Cup) is an extremely important tournament for Pakistan, as it is for every membership nation. We face Australia tomorrow, a country that is incredibly proud to set high standards in terms of delivery on trophy for its country in World Cups and this is one where that has never got into that trophy cabinet. So, a lot of high-stake matches ahead of us now,” Hayden said.
"From a Pakistan cricket point of view, I feel as a nation that loves cricket as much as what it does and focused so heavily on cricket, and also have tournaments, including ones I was a part of, cancelled for numerous reasons. It's never more important... the awareness has heightened that out of this great nation, we've got a squad of players here that are ready to perform and ready to take on not only the semi-finals, but should we get beyond that to the finals... very important for Pakistan cricket.”
Pakistan will lock horns against Australia in the second semi-final on Thursday, November 11 in Dubai.