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Hayden upbeat ahead of Test

Investec Test Series
Matthew Hayden

Opener Matthew Hayden rediscovered his touch on a batsman's paradise at Chelmsford © Getty Images

Matthew Hayden took the opportunity to score 150 quick-fire runs on Sunday against Essex and warned England that Australia can still win the Ashes.

Hayden retired from the action after plundering seven sixes and 18 fours off Essex before lunch at Chelmsford.

He admitted: “We are in a good position. I know it sounds stupid but all the pressure is off us now.

“We can just play our game and if we play like we can it will be better than England,” added Hayden ahead of the fifth and final Test at The Oval.

Brad Hodge

Batsman Brad Hodge also scored big runs against Essex © Getty Images

Australia scored 561 for six in reply to the Essex total of 502 for four declared, with Brad Hodge contributing 166.

Out-of-form Hayden's top score so far in the Ashes series is 36 and he readily admitted facing England will be a far different proposition to a far from hostile Essex attack on a perfect batting track.

He said: “It was a bit like surfing in a swimming pool. But every tour game has been a good opportunity to get runs and that's all you can do.

“It was a very good wicket and a very, very fast outfield which was good because you didn't have to run between the wickets.”

But Hayden insisted: “The big game starts on Thursday and whatever's gone in the past means nothing now. The Ashes are on the line and I just want to put together a good game plan.”

Hayden, whose side trail England 2-1 and need to win to retain the Ashes, has no fears about playing on a similar batting strip at The Oval.

Matthew Hayden

Left-hander Hayden has endured a torrid time against England on tour so far this summer © Getty Images

“They can put out this wicket any time they like. I'd love to roll it up and take it round the world with me,” added Hayden, even though similar conditions could see England bat Australia out of the match.

Hayden claims the presence of spinner Shane Warne gives Australia the hope of victory on any pitch.

“Warney comes into play no matter what conditions we play under. We've got enough people in our hutch to concern England.

“All we can do is get runs and the next few days are really important for us to consolidate.

“You don't suddenly become an ordinary player so it is significant for me to work on a few things before Thursday.

“The position is we have got a Test match to play and it's all on the line. If Australia win we retain the Ashes so to me it's a very simple position.

“It's a matter of coming through in the big game and I believe we can do it.”

Glenn McGrath

The availability of Glenn McGrath could prove crucial to Australia's chances at the Oval © Getty Images

Hayden knows the importance of a fit Glenn McGrath to Australia.

The pace bowler insists he will be fit to return on Thursday after missing the fourth Test, although there is still a question mark over his elbow injury.

Hayden said: “I'm just looking forward to him (McGrath) getting out on the park - that's the key for us. He's a huge player.

“He's bowled a bit in the last few days which is significant, I guess. If he's not bowling he's got no chance so the last few days have stood him in good stead.

“The elbow is coming along nicely, I think, that's certainly what he's telling us anyway.”

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