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Haddin stars as retirement rumours swirl

AAP logoAAP 3/01/2014 Joe Barton
haddin © Gareth Copley/Getty Images haddin

As Brad Haddin blazed his way to another Australian Test innings-saving half-century, rumours of his imminent retirement swirled around the SCG.

Thankfully they appear baseless, for now at least, with his manager saying he's given no such indication.

That's the best possible news for Australian fans basking in the glory of a 4-0 Ashes lead.

Without Haddin's typically aggressive 75, and 128-run partnership with Steve Smith, Australia's fortunes on day one of the fifth Ashes Test would've been much more grim.

Despite being 36, the age when champion wicketkeepers Rod Marsh, Ian Healy and Adam Gilchrist pulled stumps on their careers, Haddin's role for Australian cricket has never been more crucial.

While the resurgent Mitchell Johnson has produced some devastating spells to seal three man-of-the-match awards in the opening four Tests, Haddin could mount a serious argument for deserving man-of-the-series honours.

It has been Haddin's counter-attacking, street-fighter attitude which has rescued Australia in four of the five Tests to date.

The pugnacious nature of his innings earned praise from former Australian skipper Allan Border, a terrific scrapper in his own right.

"Five times in a row ... I don't know if I've seen it better," Border said.

It started with a defiant 94, as part of a 114-run partnership with Johnson, at the Gabba with Australia on the ropes, a knock acknowledged as the series-defining innings.

But the veteran vice-captain has delivered in the first innings of every Test - passing 50 on every occasion, including a century at Adelaide.

Not since Keith Stackpole in 1972 has a player cracked half-centuries in every match of an Ashes series.

His efforts have papered over the cracks in Australia's ever-fragile top order, and underlined his importance to the Australian team.

Certainly Michael Clarke would be hoping to have his deputy play on for some time yet.

He said as much in his pre-match press conference today.

"I think you can see the benefit of Brad Haddin in our team, just with his experience," Clarke said.

"Obviously (Haddin's) performances have been great but his experience being our vice-captain is crucial to our team."

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